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Laird Shepherd pulled off an unfathomable comeback on Saturday to win The Amateur Championship.
The 23-year-old Englishman was eight down after 17 holes and four down with four holes remaining, but defeated countryman Monty Scowsill on the 38th hole.
“It’s an amazing, amazing feeling. To come back from eight down through 17 holes, I mean I was honestly more concerned about not making an embarrassing record-breaking defeat. Monty played so good in the morning, so composed, and I didn’t really have my game. To turn it around was unbelievable,” Shepherd said.
“The last 18 holes I thought ‘I’m not going to win’, but at least I could get a few highlights that I can watch on YouTube one night! It’s just amazing how things can change.”
— The R&A (@RandA) June 19, 2021
The 25-year-old Scowsill dominated the match over the morning 18 holes at the Nairn Scottish links. He remained in control over the afternoon 18, needing to win just one of the final four holes to secure the championship.
But Shepherd won the 33rd and 35th holes with birdie and the 34th with a par. At the par-5 18th, the final hole of regulation, Scowsill hit a tree with his drive and lipped out his winning effort.
Shepherd prevailed when Scowsill three-putted for bogey on the 38th hole.
“It’s really tough to take. I was in command all the way, really. I finished poorly and Laird finished very well, to be fair to him. That’s golf,” Scowsill said.
“I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I just didn’t hit the shots when I needed to on the back nine. It happens. It was my morning, it was his afternoon.”
For his triumph in the 126th edition of The Amateur, Shepherd will compete in next month’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s. He will also receive an invite into the 2022 U.S. Open and, by tradition, an invitation to play in next year’s Masters Tournament.
“It’s just going to be really special. Whatever happens in the events I’m now going to play, nobody can take that experience away from me,” he said. “I’m so looking forward to testing my game out against the best players in the world.”