Charlie Rusbridge

Rusbridge claims English U18 crown after three-way playoff

Yorkshire’s Charlie Rusbridge won the English U18 Championship at Hesketh GC in dramatic fashion as he secured a birdie on the second play-off hole to take the title.

The Colne Valley golfer finished tied for the lead after 72 holes alongside Harrison Sewell (Northumberland) and Daniel Hayes (Bramhall), as the trio finished on -11 after their four rounds of action in Southport.

Rusbridge got off to a flying start with an opening-day 67 before shooting +1 on Saturday, but an incredible first round on Sunday morning saw the 16-year-old ace the 2nd and eagle the 18th to finish with a 66. His final round of -1 was enough to sit joint-top of the leaderboard.

Sewell didn’t have a great start to the event with +3 on day one, but -3 on day two and on the morning of day three, saw him jump up the board. But in his fourth and final round, he shot the Hesketh course record (-8), which included an incredible eight birdies, as the 18-year-old came out of nowhere to force a play-off.

Hayes himself didn’t have the opening day he wanted with a level-par score but -5 on day two and two rounds of -3 on Sunday saw him force his way into a play-off, thanks to a brilliant birdie on the 72nd hole of the competition.

In a tense finale for the play-off, all three players parred the first hole before the second play-off hole (the par-5 18th) saw 17-year-old Hayes and Sewell find trouble with their approaches, while Rusbridge secured a comfortable two-putt birdie to crown himself English U18 champion.

Rusbridge said: “It’s a bit surreal. It’s been a battle all week but to come out on top feels amazing. It’s been a rollercoaster final day, obviously with a hole-in-one this morning where I played really nicely. I hit it nicely and it seemed to stall a bit in the air but after two bounces it went in. It’s my first-ever ace, so I couldn’t believe it. My head was a bit swell after that as I made bogey next hole, but to recover from that was pleasing.

“It was a battle all afternoon with my playing partners and the play-offs certainly made a long day even longer, but it was special to get the win.”

Only five of the 130 players managed to shoot under-par at the event. Oscar Lent (Walton Heath) shot an impressive -8 over the four rounds to finish in 4th, while Drew Sykes (Goodwood) finished 5th on -7, largely thanks to a second round 66 which included seven birdies.

Check out the final leaderboard here.