Goodwood ace eyeing England glory... seniors get frosty reception
Goodwood ambassador Marco Penge is aiming to represent Great Britain and Ireland at the 46th Walker Cup against the USA in September.
Selection for the GB&I team in one of the most prestigious amateur competitions in the world would undoubtedly be the high point in the teenager’s already-impressive CV.
Penge, currently playing in Australia for five weeks, has said the Walker Cup is his main aim, but the 18-year-old has a number of strong ambitions for 2017.
He said: “I’d like to finish the year in the top 50 in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) and make the 2017 Walker Cup team. It’s also my aim to represent England in the men’s team in the Home Internationals and European Teams Championship.”
On the Walker Cup, Penge added: “It’s something I’ve always wanted to achieve so it would be great to make the team and represent GB&I in America.
“There has been a lot of history in the event and a lot of great players have played in it, for example Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.”
Last year was very successful for Penge and included victory in the Sunningdale Foursomes and a record-breaking round in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin. He finished tied first in the French Amateur Open, only to miss out in the play-off to Spanish number one Ivan Cantero.
Such successes provided Penge with some key experience. He said: “One thing I learnt from last year is that when you’re playing well it is important to note down what the reasons are for why you’re playing well. Otherwise you keep playing and playing and then when things don’t go to plan you get stuck.”
Penge, who is from Horsham, travelled to Australia at the turn of the year to take part in a number of tournaments, including the Australian Master of the Amateurs. He said: “I was happy with my performance as I played a lot of good stuff. If only the putts had dropped it would have been a completely different story. The standard was insane and I was up against the best players in the world so it was tough.
“The heat (in Australia) is so different to back home. We had to play the last round in 40-degree heat and when you’re on the course for five hours it is not easy.
“You have to eat and drink so much to stay focussed and to think correctly. Also, once you have been travelling for over 26 hours it takes time for your body to feel normal and re-group.
“I just want to give it the best go I can and make sure I enjoy the time here, because a lot of people would love to be in my position. Five weeks is long time to be away from home and play an event every week. If you don’t enjoy it and have fun it will be a long five weeks.”
Following a series of overnight frosts, Cowdray Park seniors held the second round of the Captain’s Prize with hard fairways, harder greens and frozen bunkers, all making for challenging playing conditions.
Those going out early had to contend with the worst of the conditions, with the temperature rising from -3C to +4c as the morning wore on.
All eyes were on the previous week’s runaway winner, Brian Heath, following his stunning 43 points in the heavy rain.
He was unable to replicate this form under different conditions, but still returned a creditable 34 points to put him in second place after two rounds.
The best individual score on the day came from Roger Poat with 41 points, which following his first-round score of 38 put him in the lead with 79 points after two rounds.
His cause was aided by a brilliant two on the par-four 15th hole. Another exceptional strike came from John Newman, who holed his second shot on the par-four seventh hole.
Given the condition of the fairways and greens these were remarkable achievements.
The best pairs scores on the day were Roger Poat (41) and David Manning (35), ahead of John Newman (36) and Dave Fowler (37) and very early starters Bill Birnie (30) and Graham Thompson (39).
Through the generosity of the seniors, £124 was raised for Water Action Aid.
Leading scores after two rounds: 79 Roger Poat; 77 Brian Heath; 73 John Renwick; 72 Dave Fowler; 71 Rodney Fisher; 70 Graham Thompson.
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