Sussex golf win leads to Abu Dhabi invite for Ben

Ben Loveard was pushed all the way to secure a wire to wire win at Royal Ashdown Forest to earn a merited invite to the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final.

Ben Loveard talks about his victory
Ben Loveard talks about his victory

Following a dramatic two hole play-off final, Loveard claimed a well-deserved victory in the England South I Boys Championship.

Over three days, 106 elite junior boys from under-16s to under-21s battled through wind, rain and sun on the heathland layout at Royal Ashdown Forest for a winning invite to the 24th Faldo Series Europe Grand Final at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club, Abu Dhabi this November.

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The stunning Old Course heathland presented a technical challenge for the junior golfers. Despite its ‘bunkerless’ design, its heather linings, natural hollows and hidden streams defend the greens and demand a composed and patient game to find reward.

The old course at Royal Ashdown Forest

For the second time in as many weeks, the final day of the Faldo Series was live streamed to the series’ social media channels and media partners’ channels with real-time broadcasts from streaming partner ContentLIVE. Champion Loveard produced two remarkable golfing displays to establish a three-shot lead going into the final round, with only George Durkan in reach.

An early flourish from Durkan opened up the closing day with the ebb and flow between two proving inconclusive as their stalemate forced a play-off.

A lip out from Durkan to seal the win on the first hole proved costly, as it was Loveard who found success on his second time of asking, following a dialled in wedge to leave a simple putt to secure the win and U18 category too.

Loveard said: “It feels great to get the win. Coming into the final round with a three shot lead I was really pushed by George at the end and made to work hard and make a few up and downs to me in it.

“I have played with George a number of times, so the play-off wasn’t as daunting as it could have been and eased the nerves a little. I’m really looking forward to the Grand Final in Abu Dhabi.”

In the U21 category, Harvey Evans claimed the win.

Director of the Faldo Series Matthew Faldo said: “We have been coming to Royal Ashdown Forest for a number of years and it continues to stage exciting golf.”

He added: As a venue it holds great prestige and this week in particular, with the weather, challenged the players strategic game and required players to demonstrate great control.”

“We want to congratulate Ben for an impressive win, and great to see both Ben and George enjoying the healthy competition with our second Series consecutive playoff. Also, congratulations to Harvey and Luke on their wins too, given the tough conditions especially on the second day and the testing course layout, these winning scores are particularly encouraging and a testament to the players’ talents.”

The Faldo Series team and Royal Ashdown Forest staff went above and beyond to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all players and staff at the event remained uncompromised, with sanitisation stations, social distancing and reduced touch points implemented and signed throughout the event.