By Kent Gray
Toby Bishop had to settle for the not inconsiderable consolation of getting one up on his pal Josh Hill after his bid for the overall Faldo Series Europe title faded early in the final round at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
The Dubai-based Welsh teen had lead overnight but a pair of bogeys on his opening two holes saw his bid flounder. Bishop eventually finished with a 54-hole total of 207, four shots behind eventual overall champion Ting-Yu Chen (Chinese Taipei) who also easily waltzed away with the U-18 title.
Bishop’s consolation was to hoist the U-16 crown by four-shots from serial Faldo Series champion and Jumeirah Golf Estates club-mate Hill.
Chen coped well with the pressures of sleeping on an overnight lead by adding a 68 to his glittering second round 65 to be crowned Faldo Series Europe Grand Final Champion.
His round got off to a solid start with two birdies in the opening seven holes, giving him a lead over his competitors that proved unassailable. He paired a bogey with a birdie on his closing 10 holes to finish on 7-under for the week and secure a dominant four shot win.
England’s Emily Brennan put an exclamation point on one of the best Faldo Series careers ever with a birdie on her final hole for a final round 68. Brennan won the 2015 and 2016 Faldo Series England Girls Championships, before placing fourth and third respectively in her age groups at the European Grand Final in those years. Her four-under par total was enough to see her finally get her hands on the trophy and win the Girls’ Under 21 category, and finish solo second overall.
The Al Ain event signalled the conclusion of the 22nd year of the Faldo Series Europe that has seen 1500 participants compete over 14 events held in 10 countries. The international flavour was exemplified in the five winners hailing from five separate countries around the world; Slovakia, Chinese Taipei, Wales, England and Kazakhstan.
Sir Nick Faldo commented: “It’s been a fantastic year for the Faldo Series, and the standard of this week’s golf epitomised that. We had the most international field we’ve ever had this year, and you just have to look at the list of winners to see that. Having winners from the likes of Kazakhstan and Slovakia goes to show how the game is growing, and if the Faldo Series can be a small part of that, then that makes me so proud.”
Boys’ Under-21: 210* – Michael Brezovsky (SVK); 210 – Paul Murphy (IRE).
Boys’ Under 18: 203 – Ting-Yu Chen (TPE); 212 – Max Kennedy (IRE).
Boys’ Under 16: 207 – Toby Bishop (WAL); 211 – Josh Hill (ENG).
Girls’ Under 21: 206 – Emily Brennan (ENG); 207 – Ebonie Lewis (ENG).
Girls’ Under 16: 212 – Rivekka Jumagulova (KAZ); 223 – Rachel Foster (SCO).
*Denotes a winner determined by lowest final round.