Harvey Watts retains his Suffolk junior matchplay title

Harvey Watts (Newton Green) receives the Suffolk Junior matchplay cup from Suffolk Golf Union presi

Harvey Watts (Newton Green) receives the Suffolk Junior matchplay cup from Suffolk Golf Union president with losing finalist Conal Downing (Rookery Park) on the left. Picture: TONY GARNETT - Credit: Archant

Teenager Harvey Watts, from Newton Green, retained his Suffolk Junior matchplay title at Bury St Edmunds.

Harvey, 17, is proving himself as Suffolk’s coolest junior match player. Last year he hit back in the closing stages to beat Sam Byford in the final at Waldringfield.

This year, after tense finishes against Max Adams and Alfie Halil, he overcame Suffolk junior champion Conal Downing of Rookery Park in the final.

Harvey, who won his singles in an Anglian League second team match on his home course two years ago, plays with a smile. He stays unruffled under pressure.

In the second round he was taken to the first extra hole by Adams. He was one down on the last tee but, after Adams hit a wayward drive, Harvey showed his maturity by putting his driver back in the bag and making sure of his par.

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He took advantage of another mistake by Adams to win down the first.

In the semi-final against Suffolk Open champion Alfie Halil was again level on the last tee.

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After two shots Harvey was in the shade of a tree on the left while Halil was on the fairway.

Harvey played a masterful chip to within five feet. Halil’s approach rolled to the back of the green. Harvey’s birdie won the day.

The final did not reach same high standard. Conal, whose birdie against the wind on the 17th at Felixstowe Ferry enabled him to beat Harvey by one shot for the junior championship, battled bravely.

Conal was one up at the turn after putting in from just off the green for birdie from 10 feet, on the ninth. By that stage Harvey must have been kicking himself for missing short putts on the first and eighth.

Harvey then took control by winning the 10th and the 11th before a six-iron to within two feet on the 174-yard 13th left him with a tap-in birdie.

He was two up with five to play, an advantage that a golfing myth suggests never wins.

The 506-yard 14th was halved with birdies. Conal’s second was on a down slope to the left of the green but pin high. His third shot rolled well past the hole and looked as though he would be three down with four to play. Then he had lifeline. He sunk his long putt and the match was still alive.

Conal won the 15th and 16th with pars, the second the result of a memorable six-iron from trouble on the left which found the green. Harvey was short in two and dropped a shot.

Now it was all square. The 17th was halved in par after massive drives from both players.

The 18th was a disaster for Conal. He took longer than usual on the tee and then launched the ball way off to the right where it ended in a bush.

He had played four before he was back on the fairway. He was still not on the green in five and conceded with Harvey preparing to take a six-foot birdie putt. It was a pity it ended tamely. Harvey is still young enough to bid for a hat-trick of junior match play wins next year.

In the other semi-final Conal beat George Fricker on the last green. Suffolk has several talented juniors as the close scoring in the final stages suggests. The future looks bright.

Suffolk Junior matchplay (at Bury St Edmunds): First round: Conal Downing bt Jude Everitt 5 and 4, Louis Martin bt Oli Page 3 and 2, George Fricker bt Max Weaver 4 and 2, Jack Butcher bt Teddy Hall 7 and 5, Taylor Crisp wo Ben Tatum, Max Adams bt Guy Maynard 2 and 1, Harvey Watts bt James Iron 8 and 6.

Quarter-finals: Downing beat Martin 2 and 1, Fricker beat Butcher 4 and 3, Halil beat Crisp 4 and 2, Watts beat Adams at 19th.

Semi-finals Downing beat Fricker one up; Watts beat Halil one up.

Final: Watts beat Downing one up.

- Suffolk hosted this year’s Keith Bass Trophy at Ufford Park. This under 14 event saw Suffolk compete against Essex, Norfolk and Bedfordshire.

It is played over 27 holes of medal with the best three gross scores added to the best three net scores to decide the team winner.

Essex were the victors with a total of 685.5 from Norfolk on 701, Suffolk 732.5 and Bedfordshire 733.

The individual gross winner was Rory Bennett (Essex) with 113 and the net winner Adam Crawley (Essex) 104.

Suffolk scores: Tyler Weaver 125, Josh Goulton 127, Ben Newman 133, Joe Ford 135, George Austin 139, Harry Brinded 141 and Henry Meadows 147, Jarred Lansdale no return.

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