The Brazilian job
PUBLISHED: 11:39 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 06 May 2010
JAMES WATTS of East Herts, the only Herts representative in the Faldo Series Grand Final in Brazil, saw his hopes of finishing champion dashed after leading the field with a round to go. In the main Under-21 event over 54 holes held at the coastal Costa d
JAMES WATTS of East Herts, the only Herts representative in the Faldo Series Grand Final in Brazil, saw his hopes of finishing champion dashed after leading the field with a round to go.
In the main Under-21 event over 54 holes held at the coastal Costa do Sauipe course, 40 miles north of Salvador, former Herts Boys champion Watts opened with a one over par 73, to be six strokes off the lead held by Scotland's Andrew Wallace, 67, with Steven Brown of Chobham sharing third place on 72.
With all the players coming under scrutiny from Nick Faldo during the contest and in conditions which most of the 83 finalists in six age groups from 10 nations had never encountered before, with temperatures of 30-plus degrees, a testing sea breeze, undulating greens and varying grasses making club selection difficult, Watts produced the round of the event the next day.
In a brilliant performance he picked up seven birdies without dropping a shot for a round of 65 to move him into a three-stroke lead over Brown, 69, with Wallace slipping back with 77.
Sadly for Watts, he could not produce the same form on the final day, opening with two bogeys and, after a birdie at the next, dropping shots to be five over par at the turn and finishing with 79 for a 217 total, one over par, to share second place with Wallace, 73, as Brown claimed the title on 213 after a 72.
Afterwards Brown said "The hardest shot today was on the first tee, with the cameras on me and Nick Faldo watching, but I never put myself under pressure. With names like Nick Dougherty and Oliver Fisher on the trophy, it feels special and I hope I can follow in their footsteps."
As Nick Faldo made the presentations to the group winners, there was not only the Under 21 Trophy and the Harold Riley prize as Faldo Series Champion for Steven Brown, and also an invitation to play in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final at Mission Hills in China and an amateur invite to compete in the European Tour's Russian Open next season
As well as watching the players in all groups - under 18, 17, 16 and 15, and one for girls - Faldo gave a clinic for the contestants on short-game techniques, and also took the opportunity to watch another champion in action, taking a flight to Sao Paulo to see Lewis Hamilton become youngest winner of the Formula 1 crown.
With the success of the event staged on a new continent, Faldo said "The Faldo Series is about helping as many young golfers in as many countries as possible, so I feel we are on the way to achieving that".
Also attending his sixth grand final, his first overseas, was Chris James, manager of the boys county team, one of three R&A qualified referees. His role in addition to referee duties over the three days' play was to prepare local rules, select pin positions and teeing areas.
Chris, who had previously officiated at Faldo Series grand finals at Brocket Hall, Burhill and for the last three years at Celtic Manor, said: "The course is a holiday resort complex overlooking a beautiful coast, with interesting wild life - iguanas seen on the fairways and overhead colourful birds and sea eagles.