The R&A Junior Golf Championship played at the Monifieth Links Golf Course, Scotland comprising top junior golfers in a field of 109 players from 64 countries in the Age group 12 – 16 years, got underway on 11 July.
Nirekh Tejwani did Sri Lanka proud with an excellent opening round of two over par on the challenging Par 72 Course. Nirekh was comfortably Tied in 32nd place on 74, on a sunny day without much wind. However, the second round was a terribly windy day at the Links Golf Course making it a tremendous challenge and Nirekh had an eight over par 80 for a two-round total of 154 tied in 39th place comfortably making the top 80 cut-off which was at 165.
The second round saw the 15-year-old Graham Connor the Scottish Golfer smoothly taking the lead with an outstanding five under par in tough conditions securing a two-stroke lead from the Thailand Ratchanon Chantananuwat ranked higher than Graham in the World Junior Ranking.
The Blairgowrie golfer Graham Connor became just the second Scottish winner following David Inglis in the inaugural 1998 championship, to win the R&A Junior Championship on home soil.
With 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie watching the action, 15-year-old Graham recorded a bogey-free five-under-par final round 67 to finish on 203, 13-under-par, to defeat heavily fancied Thai player Ratchanon Chantananuwat by five shots. Eric Zhao from Canada was third on four-under in the 54-hole championship, with Riura Matsui from Japan in fourth spot on two-under.
“It’s a great feeling to come out on top in such a big event,” said Graham. “Ratchanon’s obviously a very good player and it feels good to perform well against him and other good players.”
The plus four handicapper began the championship ranked 356th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), 343 places below Chantananuwat. The 15-year-old arrived in Scotland with an Official World Golf Ranking of 291st after winning the Asian Tour’s Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup earlier this year, a win that made him the youngest male winner of a professional tournament at just 15 years and 37 days. Nirekh played some brilliant Golf to be one under par playing the 12th Hole and lost 12 strokes in the last four holes to card a 84 for a three round total of 238, 22 over par in Tied 63rd place of 109 plyers. “It was a fascinating experience for me to play among the best juniors in the world and make the cut,” said Nirekh Tejwani, the first Sri Lankan Junior to make it to the final round.
Kaya Daluwatte also playing alongside the boys in the junior open championship, off different tees in her first major international tournament missed the cut by six strokes after two rounds, at 27 over par.
“I learnt a lot from this junior championship, and I am sure I can do better with the experience,” said Kaya disappointed to miss the cut.
Junior Golf in Sri Lanka Team Manager and Chairperson Niloo Jayatilake said: “Nirekh played very good golf throughout, but the challenging conditions taught him a lot and I am sure both Nirekh and Kaya will improve much with this amazing experience behind them and do better in the future.”