Ben Brown - 2023 English Amateur Champion
Photography credit: Leaderboard
Ellen Yates and Ben Brown were crowned women’s and men’s 2023 Amateur Champions after a mesmerising final day at Ferndown Golf Club.
The men’s and women’s semi-finals threw up four tight battles which went to the final or penultimate holes, before the afternoon’s two finals both required two play-off holes to determine a winner.
Tyler Weaver hit the green with his tee shot on the 20th hole, while Ben had hit the trees right, however, Ben made a miraculous recovery by chipping in from 20 yards to win it as Tyler’s birdie putt was just shy.
Ellen’s tee shot on the 20th was straight allowing her to get near the hole in two, but opponent Rebecca Earl found the bunker before missing a bogey putt to concede the hole as Ellen was named champion.
Here’s how the final day of the English Amateur Championship panned out:
Tyler came out the blocks firing with a birdie before Josh won three holes on the spin with birdie, par, par, to go two-up. Josh won the sixth until Tyler flipped the game on its head again with an eagle and birdie on 10 and 11 respectively.
Josh levelled things up with an impressive birdie on the 15th before a short putt went by to send Tyler one-up with two to play. A halve on the 17th meant it went down the last and with the crowd in view, a nervy 18th hole saw both make mistakes. Tyler went right of the green before missing an up-and-down, while Josh was short before chipping to within four feet. However, he missed the putt to send Tyler into the final.
Yorkshiremen Ben Brown (Romanby) and Jack Whaley (Rotherham) battled out another tight game, with Jack leading after a mistake from Ben on the first, right up till the fifth. However, consecutive birdies for Ben on six and seven turned the game around.
Jack then conceded the eighth after two poor tee shots and Ben was three-up at the turn after a solid par on the ninth. A birdie on 10 and then 15 from Jack put the pressure on, before Ben’s approach landed by the pin on 16 before spinning down the hill. He recovered with a fine two-putt before a nervy 17th which saw both players hitting wayward right, before Ben conceded the hole.
With spectators enjoying viewing on the 18th, a solid up-and-down from Jack meant Ben needed to hole a four-footer to seal a place in the final, and he held his cool to do so.
The 12th saw both players off-line, and with Davina needing relief, she was only able to recover a five as Rebecca’s bogey levelled the match. Another Rebecca birdie on 13 put her ahead, before Davina’s mistake on 14 put her two-up. Some superb play followed from both, as Davina landed a long putt on 16 for birdie to halve the hole with Rebecca, who had pitched it to gimme distance.
The 17th saw both par with yet more neat putting from Davina but it was too little too late as Rebecca won 2&1 to reach the final.
Caitlin Whitehead (Carus Green) was two-up over Ellen Yates (West Hill) after four, following mistakes from each player giving the other wins on the opening few holes. That was until Ellen, for the third time this week, came close to a hole-in-one, on the fifth, as she won with a gimme birdie.
It was then a yo-yo match as Caitlin birdied seven, Ellen birdied eight, Caitlin won nine with par, and Ellen birdied 10. Despite having been two-down at the turn, Ellen was up for the first time in the contest on the 12th as she won three straight holes with birdie, par, birdie. Mistakes from both on 15 allowed Ellen to go two-up thanks to a bogey before the next was halved, and despite hitting a fairway bunker on 17, she held her nerve to halve the hole with bogey and win 2&1.
Ben pulled one back after birdieing the par-5 seventh before an extraordinary eighth hole. Ben reached the front edge of the 302-yard par-4 while Weaver’s tee shot was pulled towards spectators. Remarkably, the ball looked to be heading out of bounds but fortunately hit a buggy, rolling down the path and onto some grass. Tyler remained composed in front of the many onlookers to produce a tough chip onto the green, before holing a stunning 25-footer for birdie. Ben knocked his birdie in for the half.
The pair were soon level after Ben’s par beat Tyler’s bogey on 11 and the Romanby member shot birdie, par through 13 and 14 to go two-up. Tyler birdied 15 and then won 17 with par to send them all-square down the last. A sublime up-and-down from Ben meant Tyler needed a 10-footer for the win but it slid by to send them into a play-off.
Pars on the first play-off took them down the second as the rain came down once again, but Tyler delivered a super tee shot to give him a 15-foot putt before Ben hit the trees right, dropping into the rough. He knew he needed an up-and-down for a chance to keep the game going, but he went one better, hitting the edge of the green and watching the ball roll into the cup for birdie. Tyler’s putt was just short as the Men’s Amateur Championship ended in dramatic style.
After his winning chip, Ben said: “It was a terrible iron shot off the tee but with how soft the greens were, I’d left chip shots shorts all day, so I told myself to land it far enough up there. Luckily it managed to creep in. I didn’t celebrate it because Tyler had a 15-footer for birdie so I didn’t want to get my hopes up!” Hear more from Ben here and check out his winning chip by clicking here.
Ben is the second person in his family to win the trophy, after brother Dan Brown won it in 2016.
With her father on the bag, she bounced back tremendously to win the 15th before a super recovery on 16. With both balls off the tee in practically identical positions, Rebecca was short on the green while Ellen’s was long, bouncing out of bounds into the bush but popping back onto the path. With the free relief, she was able to produce a stunning up-and-down for par to halve it.
Rebecca remained one-up going into the last but her first tee shot went out of bounds, before she almost holed her fourth shot from the fairway from 153 yards. Ellen made par to take it down the 19th where they matched each other again. On the 20th, Ellen hit one straight but short, while Rebecca hit the bunker left before sending one slightly out the back. After missing the bogey putt, Rebecca conceded to end another enthralling contest and putting an end to a fantastic, albeit mostly wet, 2023 English Amateur Championship.
Ellen said: “It’s amazing. I knew that I could still give myself a chance to win despite being behind, as I was two-down in the morning semi-finals. I knew that I could fight back and my dad on the bag was saying the same thing. It was great having him there for my last tournament before I head to the USA.” Hear more from Ellen by clicking here.
The 2024 English Amateur Championship takes place at Seaton Carew and Hartlepool Golf Clubs between 30 July and 4 August.
Check out the scorecards by clicking here.
Photography credit: Leaderboard