The Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship witnessed a record-breaking finale at Portugal’s famous Quinta do Lago resort, as rising England stars Ben Schmidt and Mimi Rhodes created fresh chapters for the event’s 35-year history book.
While Schmidt’s 15-shot victory rarely looked in doubt from the first day of the 54-hole event – junior golf’s unofficial major – Mimi Rhodes’ victory was unclear until the 16th green, when she stood level with playing partners Darcey Harry from Wales and Scotland’s Carmen Griffiths.
With three holes left, 17-year-old Rhodes from Wedmore, Somerset, finished as no girl had ever done before, with birdie, birdie, and finally an eagle, to claim the Girls’ title and add her name to the illustrious list of previous winners. Rhodes was suddenly celebrating a four-shot triumph over Darcey Harry, while Carmen Griffiths was three shots further back in third.
The tears fell as Mimi was hugged by younger sister Patience, who herself had finished in fifth place on Quinta do Lago’s North Course. Following her triumph, Mimi was immediately on the phone to her grandmother Susan, as she explained: “Grandma is suffering from cancer and has been through a bad time, but she was so proud of Patience and I qualifying for these finals. I wanted so much to do it for her. Grandma said she knew I would win, but even she was surprised that I closed my round like that.”
Rotherham Golf Club’s Schmidt, also 17 and already the winner of this season’s Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy, finished ahead of fellow Englishman Max Hopkins and Northern Ireland’s Aaron Marshall in a tie for second 15 shots back. Schmidt shot 68, 69, 69 for a final score of 10-under-par, a performance made even more impressive by his achievement of covering the final 36 holes with only one bogey on his card.
Afterwards, an elated Schmidt described his emotions: “I did feel very much in control and I can’t tell you what this means to me. To win this title at any stage would’ve been a huge honour, but to do so in the year when Justin Rose has first put his name to it and sponsored the championship with his own money makes it extra special. It’s been a fantastic year for me, with the Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy already on the mantlepiece and now this as well. It gives me so much confidence going forwards.”
Once again, the Algarve has staged another first-class golfing event. The fantastic courses and facilities of the Quinta do Lago have admirably showcased not only the potential golfing superstars of tomorrow, but also the wonderful golfing environment of southern Portugal, and everything that this beautiful region has to offer for both sport and leisure.
The final tournament placings for both Boys and Girls are as follows:
206 B Schmidt (Rotherham) 68, 69, 69
221 A Marshall (Lisburn) 76, 72, 73, M Hopkins (Bishop Stortford) 75, 72, 74
222 C Adam (Royal Burgess) 73, 73, 76
223 C Passmore (Torquay) 72, 74, 77.
223 M Rhodes (Burnham & Berrow) 75, 77, 71
227 D Harry (Vale Resort) 80, 73, 74
230 C Griffiths (Aboyne) 75, 77, 78
231 R Belsham (Whitley Bay) 81, 77, 73
235 P Rhodes (Burnham & Berrow) 84, 70, 81
By TOM CALLAN