Golf: Penge wants to follow in Rory McIlroy’s footsteps

Marco Penge at Goodwood
Marco Penge at Goodwood

For most 17-year-olds, the aim of emulating Rory McIlroy’s feat of winning one of golf’s historic major titles by the age of 22 is just a fantasy – but for Goodwood’s Marco Penge it is a very real possibility.

This has been a stellar year for the current under-18 European top-ranked golfer. Penge has long been touted as a rising star of the game but this year he confirmed his credentials as the future of English and world golf by being crowned England’s top junior golfer of 2015 by winning the boys’ order of merit.

Having won three national events in 2015 including the Scottish Amateur Strokeplay Championship, Penge eased to the order of merit title despite playing very few tournaments on the Boy’s tour.

Penge said: “The year has given me great confidence. Winning the Scottish Amateur Strokeplay Championships was my favourite victory as it is the biggest one I have won and I felt like I played great golf.

“I played with some class players that week which improved my game and before the week I even said to a friend ‘I feel like I have a great chance of winning’ – and I did!”

Penge plans to turn pro within the next two years but not until he feels his game is ready for the challenges of the professional tour.

My good golf is good enough for the top of the amateur game but my bad golf needs improving. Golf At Goodwood have been great to me, they’re so supportive and I couldn’t ask for a better golf club to support me.

Marco Penge

Such maturity is beyond his years but with a number of young golfers such as Jordan Spieth, McIlroy and Rickie Fowler all enjoying success that belies their age, the ambitious Penge has them all within his sights.

McIlroy won his first major at the age of 22 and Penge believes there is no reason he can’t emulate the current world number two and four-time major winner.

“I think I can win a major tournament before I turn pro. My plans are to turn pro within the next two years so I will give my best shot at winning a major before I am 22. It is a big goal but nothing is impossible”.

Penge is under no illusions how much hard work is between him and his quest to become the top-ranked golfer on the planet. The Golf At Goodwood ambassador will be working as hard as he can this winter on the Sussex Downs, especially to improve on the consistency needed to survive in the professional sphere.

“My good golf is good enough for the top of the amateur game but my bad golf needs improving. Golf At Goodwood have been great to me, they’re so supportive and I couldn’t ask for a better golf club to support me.

“They have two great courses and they’re very different to each other which is good because then you get used to different types of golf courses.”

In 2016, Penge is targeting winning the British Amateur Championships and qualifying for the British Open. These may seem like bold claims but for England Golf’s top junior of golfer of 2015, it is the natural progression to realising his enormous potential as a future world number one.

In the meantime he has been included in a new-look England Golf men’s squad for 2015-16. He is among seven newcomers to the squad after a number of players switched to professional ranks.

* Marco Penge is a Golf At Goodwood ambassador. To follow his progress and for more information on Golf At Goodwood membership please visit www.goodwood.com/golf-at-goodwood

COWDRAY PARK

Two very strong and evenly-matched sides locked horns when Cowdray Park entertained Bramley in the first Surrey & West Sussex Winter League match of the season.

The first game was nip and tuck all the way, finally ending in a half, giving the feeling this match would follow the pattern of recent years when Bramley have proved obdurate opponents.

This year, however, the home side recovered and went on to win the other three matches for an overall victory by 3½-½, a good start to the new season.

Results (Cowdray names first): David Tilley & Peter Hardcastle halved with Martin Cryer & Mike Sheridan; Mark Upton & Graham Thompson beat Dick Humphrey & Anthony Fey 2&1; John Newman & Chris Hutchings beat Terry Vermigle & Terry Adams 5&4; Frank Cheevers & Mark Kelly beat Peter Longford & Tony Lake 4&3.

Cowdray Park seniors’ beleaguered season continued with disruption to the latest competition for the Elliott Cup, a two-clubs-and-a-putter contest.

Conditions quickly deteriorated, as forecast, with many players coming in early and others not going out. Of those completing the course, the winner was Roger Poat with a score of 33, from John Renwick on 32.

The finish to the Cowdray Park seniors’ Ken Young Eclectic Trophy had a certain inevitably about it as the top three players had maintained their positions over the final three months.

The popular Phil Harrison clinched his sixth win of the season, ending with a score of 56 points despite handicap reductions during his successful spell.

He racked up eight pars and ten birdies, most early in the year, leaving himself little margin for improvement, and topped the leaderboard since July fending off all-comers.

He started the year with a win in the December 2014 Stableford followed by the Captain’s Prize in January and the February Stableford, the Winter Foursomes with Ken Marjoram, ending with the Heard Trophy Medal.

Harrison is also a leading light in the Surrey & West Sussex Winter League. Second place went to Peter Hardcastle, who played in only seven of the 12 competitions, scoring 57 points, consisting of one eagle, six birdies and nine pars.

Third place went to Terry Jasper, who, although he failed to attain first or second place in any of the competitions, showed an admirable consistency throughout the year.

No hole in one was recorded in any competiton during the year, and only four eagles were scored – by Peter Hardcastle and Paul Owen (15th), Mick Fillary (10th) and Peter Hallt (8th), indicating a toughening-up of the course.

A record number of 140 players submitted cards during the year’s competitions.

Cowdray ladies played in their November Stableford.

Results - Div 1: 1 Lina Cullen 34pts; 2 Sue Brown 31; 3 Jane Holden 30. Div 2 - 1 Sue Morris 32; 2 Margaret Hoare 31; 3 Pat Wallace 30. Div 3 - 1 Catherine Staples 42; 2 Helen Chapman 30; 3 Chris Sommerville 29.

BOGNOR

Bognor seniors’ first scheduled winter season game, against Petersfield, was called off because of bad weather but just two days later, Bognor entertained Waterlooville.

The match went in Waterlooville’s favour by a massive 6½-1½ scoreline. It was some consolation to Bognor that most games went to the 17th at least. The return match is in February.

Results: Frank Hodder & Bryan Madgwick lost 1 down, Andy Isitt & John Woodhead halved, Roger Selway & Mike White won 2up, Hugh Diaper & Alastair MacDonald lost 1 down, Andy James & Ian Bright lost 7&5, David Turner & Clive Millett lost 1 down, Paul Cooper & Barry Ingate lost 3&2, Alan Fitzgerald & Mick Matthews lost 2 down

A sum of £112 for the Poppy Appeal was raised by Bognor seniors at poppy competition day. John Owen and Frank Hodder collected the donations.

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