Essex’s Arron Edwards-Hill has been crowned the 23rd Faldo Series Europe champion at Al Ain in Abu Dhabi.
Edwards-Hill, 20, who is member at Chelmsford Golf Club, overcame a four-shot deficit on the final day to win the coveted title by two shots from South African junior Dylan Melville.
The Essex junior showed experience beyond his years in navigating the tricky Al Ain course, shooting three rounds in the 60s, and starting his final round back nine with five straight birdies to shoot a scintillating 64.
It was a fitting end to another brilliant season on the Faldo Series Europe schedule, where it also celebrated 10 years in Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Since March, 2,000 young hopefuls competed across 20 qualifying events around the world in their bid to return to the Abu Dhabi venue for a chance to claim one of junior golf’s most coveted prizes. The week itself saw 70 junior golfers compete from 18 different countries.
Edwards-Hill’s overall win meant he also captured the Under-21 age category. Max Kennedy (Ireland) won the Boys’ Under-18 on 5-under, while Melville, the overall runner-up, won the Boys’ Under-16.
In the girls’ category, Faldo Series Asia champion from earlier in the year, Chang Hsin Chiao of Chinese Taipei, won the Girls’ Under-21 category, with England’s Louise Burke winning the Under-16 category. The girls’ category has gone from strength to strength in recent years – up until this Grand Final, four of the last five overall champions have come from the girls’ category.
Having devised a series that hosts a grand final designed to prepare the finalists for the rigours of professional golf, Sir Nick Faldo was on-site to weigh in wherever he could to try and aid the developmental experience. Sir Nick hosts clinics and plays a hands-on role in course set-up to produce layouts akin to those designed to test the world’s best.
During a week in which Si Nick also unveiled a new logo for the Faldo Series, he commented: “I continue to be impressed by the quality of these guys and girls coming through. Anyone that makes a grand ginal deserves to be there on merit, and it’s weeks like these that prove to be the ultimate test. There are some who come through it and succeed, others who might not. Those that don’t need to take learnings from the week, go away and try and improve to be able to compete at the next level.”
He added: “Meeting the competitors this week really brings the Faldo Series to life for me and makes me proud of how it’s grown in 23 years to be the stand-out events in junior golf. We hope the kids this week have had fun, whatever the results, and will continue to work hard when they get back to their respective countries.”
The Series offers a rare opportunity for the very best juniors from each country to test themselves against their contemporaries from other nations, on some of the best courses in the world. Each stage is played at immaculate Championship courses around Europe in the lead up to the Grand Final at Al Ain.
Many of the Faldo Series’ former players and winners have gone on to reach the very top level, including European Tour stars Jordan Smith and Eddie Pepperell, LET and LPGA Tour player Melissa Reid and four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy. Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, played by thousands of golfers each year.
The Faldo Series Europe schedule now breaks for winter until the 2020 campaign starts up again in April, back at the Al Ain Golf Club. Junior golfers looking to play in the Faldo Series should visit www.faldoseries.com.
Top scores overall and in each age category:
Arron Edwards-Hill (ENG): -10; Dylan Melville (RSA): -8; Max Kennedy (IRE): -5
Boys’ Under 21:
Arron Edwards-Hill (ENG): -10; Charlie Salter (ENG): -2; Mart Anthony Karsenbarg (NED): EVS
Boys’ Under 18:
Max Kennedy (IRE): -5; Adam Brady (AUS): -2; Corey Neville (ENG): -1
Boys’ Under 16:
Dylan Melville (RSA): -8; Arjun Gupta (IND): +1; Rohan Miah (ENG): +2
Girls’ Under 21:
Chang Hsin Chiao (TPE): -2; Ling-Jie Chen (TPE): -1; Billie-jo Smith (ENG): +3
Louise Burke (ENG): +1; Sakura Kawakami (JPN): +7; Antonia Zacharovska (SVK): +8