Suffolk’s young golfers are in good form at McGregor Trophy in Somerset

Habebul Islam receives his prize from England Golf’s president-elect Desmond Duffy after his fourth-

Habebul Islam receives his prize from England Golfs president-elect Desmond Duffy after his fourth-place finish in the McGregor Trophy at Burnham and Berrow. Photograph: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Two of Suffolk’s three players in the McGregor Trophy, the English Boys’ under-16 open stroke play at Burnham and Berrow made the cut.

Habebul Islam (Ipswich) and George Fricker (Ufford Park) played all four rounds unlike the members of the Scotland and Wales national team and two of the three top Ireland players.

Suffolk’s third player, Max Adams of Bury St Edmunds, struggled with a first round of 85. On the second day he showed what a good player he can be with 73. He had three birdies.

Ollie Rust (Gog Magog), a regular in the Cambridgeshire Anglian League first team, would have been disappointed with a first round 82. He hit back with 73. He was one under par on his back nine. Dominic Clemens (Hanbury Manor), one of the trio of England A players, missed the cut.

Habebul, who was 16 in April, is developing into a steely competitor who seems to play better when the competition is at its toughest.

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This international event was won by a boy from Estonia. Habebul was only four shots behind after 72 holes.

Habebul travelled to Somerset with the objective of making the cut – the top 40 and ties in a talented field of 140.

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After the first round he was in fourth place. He was four under on the 18th tee when he had a double. A par would have made him joint leader.

It was a test of nerves on the second day after being four over after 11 holes. He played the final seven holes in one under par. His playing partner was James Reed from Exeter, the youngest-ever Devon amateur champion and a member of their county first team. Reed was on top the leader board until his costly fourth round.

There was strong wind and rain on the final day. Habebul was paired with Robin Williams, a 15-year-old who played for Northamptonshire against Suffolk at Rookery Park and was a member of the England team for the Nations Cup which they won.

Had it been match play Habebul would have been level after the first round and would have won the second round easily.

Stroke-play was a different matter. In the third round Habebul had a triple and two doubles, seven shots dropped in three holes. That could have led to his game falling apart. The opposite was the case. He had the mental strength to play some of the best golf of his life. The final 12 holes of his fourth round produced nine pars and three birdies. He was the only player in the field to sign for two rounds in the sixties.

Shad Rahman, his uncle who organises his golfing programme, said: “The more Habebul gets to play with guys like James and Robin, the more he learns and the greater belief he will have. I only ask that he takes in these experiences like a sponge.”

Fricker must have been happy with his first round of 73 that included an eagle at the par five fourth hole. He was joint 23rd overnight with the top 40 and ties making the cut.

Out early on the second day he had 75 and made the cut by one. His confidence will have been boosted by his experience with the Suffolk men’s second team in the Anglian League. Most counties do not hesitate to integrate their most talented young golfers into their county teams.

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