The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy 2012
Tuesday 11th - Thursday 13th September,
Royal Troon Golf Club, Ayrshire, Scotland
First played in 2001, The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy is a unique, international 54 hole stroke play golf tournament for boys and girls who are either the current holders of their Under 18 National Championship or have won some other major golfing event in the preceding year.
This highly rated invitational event, created by HRH The Duke of York and John Simpson, aims to promote the development of junior golf, encourage competitiveness and friendship between individual champions whilst providing them with an opportunity to play on Open venue courses against their peers.
Since the inaugural tournament in 2001 for 12 players from 6 countries, the competition has expanded geographically and now draws players from across Europe, North and South America, Asia, South Africa and Australasia. Indeed the 10th Anniversary at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake saw 55 Champions from 31 countries with handicaps averaging an impressive +1.5.
Supported by The R&A and their affiliated national governing bodies, the event counts towards the World Amateur Golf Rankings and the American Junior Golf Association’s performance based entry system. It is also organised, in many ways, like a professional tournament so as to give the potential golfing stars of the future a chance to experience what life as a professional might involve; hence the involvement of sponsors, official functions, demonstration of equipment by a major golf manufacturer and a programme of educational events.
In 2012 the tournament was held at Royal Troon Golf Club where winds gusting to 40 miles per hour, blew the majority of the field off course. Icelander Ragnar Gardarsson stood firm, winning the 12th staging of The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy following a dramatic three-way play-off.
It was Gardarsson (Iceland) Max Orrin (England) and Katja Pogacar (Slovenia) who went to sudden-death holes after all finishing tied at nine-over-par 225 for the 54 holes.
The Slovenian Girls champion, Pogacar, who held a two-shot lead overnight, needed to two-putt from the back of the 18th green to take the trophy in regulation play but, alas, her putter finally let her down this week as she three-putted for a final-round 79.
The 18-year-old then missed from four feet to win at the 1st, the first extra hole, before bogeying the 18th to end her hopes of becoming only the second female winner of the event. Orrin, 18, and Gardarsson, 17, continued the shoot-out back down the 1st, with the cool Icelandic player winning at the third extra hole thanks to an excellent up-and-down par from the bunker, while Orrin made bogey.
Afterwards, for the presentation inside the sanctuary of the clubhouse, HRH The Duke of York offered kind words. “Sincere congratulations to all the players,” he said. “You played in what can only be described as tough conditions but, I think, enjoyed it. You carried yourselves in exemplary fashion and are credit to the game of golf.”
The players departed weather-beaten but still smiling, preparing for long flights back to the likes of Mexico, Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago and New Zealand. Memories of their time on the windy links of Scotland’s west coast will certainly stay with them forever.