Scott Parker has followed in the footsteps of Royal North Devon’s Open Championship star Jimmy Mullen by winning the England Golf National Skills Challenge.
Scott, 12, from Westward Ho!, won the Tour 12-14 years category at the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, yesterday.
Mullen, who at 19 was the second best amateur at this year’s Open, won the same age category as a 13-year-old in 2007. In the same year, Royal North Devon’s Michael Townsend won the under-eight section, while Ollie Tanton, Kieran Tanton and Mike Jones also reached the national finals.
Last year’s winner was one of three opponents for Scott, all of whom were aged 15. They were tested on putting, pitching, bunker play, chipping and their long game.
The challenges featured difficult set-ups – including steep slopes and tough pin placements – which meant only the best shots would earn points.
Scott scored 41 out of a possible 50 points to beat his nearest rival by four. His bunker play in the second challenge was decisive as he top scored and earned bonus points. He also top scored in chipping and putting before finishing off with a confident long-game challenge.
Scott said: “I would not feel any more pressure if I was playing in the Open Championship, as the spectators, family, coaches and photographers following the players made it feel like a major.”
Seven thousand juniors entered the National Skills Challenge. Scott came through South West qualifying at the Kendleshire, Bristol, where he beat his friend and club-mate Sam Keyte, last year’s runner-up, on countback.
David Joy, the England Golf chief executive, presented Scott with his trophy and said Scott could follow Mullen into the Devon and England teams in the future.
Scott travelled with his father Iain Parker, Mullen’s coach and the Royal North Devon head professional, to watch Mullen in action in the Open at Muirfield, Scotland, in June.
Mullen was part of the Devon team who finished second to Lancashire in the Men’s County Championship at Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, this weekend.