Former Olympic athlete Steve Smith from Formby Golf Club saw off the challenge of more than 10,000 golfers to claim gold at the final of the Srixon Amateur Championship.
The 48-year-old retired high jumper, who won bronze at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, shot 36 points over the PGA National Course at The Belfry to claim the trophy.
The event, staged by the TGI Golf Partnership, sees partner venues across the UK and Ireland hosting qualifying events with the winner of each going onto a national leaderboard. The top 20, along with their PGA Professional, then travel to compete in the grand final.
Smith, who still holds the British record for the high jump at 2.35m, topped the grand final leaderboard by two points from Keighley Golf Club’s Gary O’Hara.
“It’s been a wonderful event and it’s been lovely to spend some time with my PGA Pro Andrew Witherup and make some new friends too. The entry fee of £3 for the monthly medal – which acted as the qualifying event – was probably the best £3 I’ve ever spent,” said Smith.
“Winning a bronze medal at the Olympic Games was obviously a highlight of my life, but since then there’s not been too much to celebrate in a sporting sense, but hey, this isn’t a bronze medal, this is a gold, so we’ll just say that!”
As well as an individual event for the amateurs there was also a team event running concurrently with the pro and their amateur partners. This was won by the Pitreavie team of Scott Roxburgh and his PGA Professional Paul Brookes.
Their combined score of 66 points saw them claim an extremely tight affair on countback from Keighley’s O’Hara and his PGA Professional Andrew Rhodes and the Low Laithes duo of Graham Batley and PGA Pro Adrian Ambler.
Brookes said: “After the difficult last 18 months or so we’ve all experienced it’s been amazing to get away, meet up with some of my old friends from TGI Golf and make new friends, it makes you appreciate the game of golf for what it’s for. If you win it’s a bonus, but it’s all about meeting different people, which is what this event has enabled us to do.
“I’m an old hand at TGI events now and I cannot recommend then highly enough to my fellow Partners. They are superbly organised and helps you to not only build relationships with your club members, but also with other TGI Partners. If you finish last or first, it doesn’t matter, they are great events and great value.”
Gareth Taylor, Srixon Sports Head of UK & Ireland Sales, added: “Thank all the TGI Partners that took part in the 2021 TGI/Srixon Amateur Championship and the whole TGI team, without that support this event would not be possible.
“This event means a lot to us at Srixon as we are able to engage with not only the TGI Partners but also their amateurs, it is great to see the networking and friendships happening throughout the day and give the finalists an experience they will never forget. The feedback from the this year’s event was extremely positive and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.”