Jones and Heath lead as Hopkins catches the eye at Quinta do Lago

·2-min read
Ben Jones - Gary Prior
Ben Jones - Gary Prior

Youthful exuberance stole the show on a sparkling opening day at the Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf Championship in the sun-soaked Algarve.

Charlotte Heath, 15, in her first competitive event abroad, was nerveless on the lightning-quick greens to post a 70 and lead the girls’ event. And Max Hopkins, at 14 the youngest player here, is in contention in the boys’ 54-hole strokeplay competition after a fearless 71.

Heath cast off any early nerves with a 12ft birdie putt on the 6th. “I had a rough start but I was confidently scrambling and knew that I could hole putts,” she said.

Aiming to become the first winner from Yorkshire since Matthew Fitzpatrick in 2012, she leads another 15-year-old, Annabell Fuller, by one stroke. Defending champion Hannah Screen is four shots off the pace after a 74.

Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf 2017 - Gary Prior
Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf 2017 - Gary Prior

Her overnight lead may force her friends at home to revise their perceptions of her chosen sport.“I don't think I'm going to change their opinion but I will give it a try,” added Heath, who won the National Counties final with Yorkshire this year. “They think golf's weird and a sport for men.”

Those who witnessed Hopkins’ fizzing approach to the par-five 18th would have been forgiven for taking a second glance at his slender build and youthful looks.

His fairway wood landed within 15ft and he made a birdie to head into today’s second round two strokes behind leader Ben Jones.

Max Hopkins - Gary Prior
Max Hopkins - Gary Prior

Hopkins, a member at Bishop’s Stortford, was far from overawed in the company of Alfie Fox and the defending champion Harry Goddard, who shot a course-record 66 here last year but had a disappointing start yesterday, finishing with a 78.

Already an England Under-18 squad member, Hopkins said after his round: “I’m not in it for nothing.”

Jones, the Northamptonshire teenager who won the Henry Cooper Junior Masters by 10 strokes, raced to four under par on the front nine but had a run of three straight bogeys before recovering his composure to finish on three under par.

Leading scores

ROUND 1 - Telegraph Vitality Junior Championships

Girls:

  • Charlotte Heath 70

  • Annabell Fuller 71

  • Lily May Humphreys 74

  • Hannah Screen 74

  • Annabel Wilson 75

  • Louise Duncan 77

  • Ana Dawson 78

  • Jessica Hall 79

  • Martha Lewis 79

Boys:

  • Ben Jones 69

  • William Hopkins 70

  • James Wilson 70

  • Alfie Fox 70

  • Max Hopkins 71

  • Thomas Plumb 76

  • Enrique Dimayuga 76

  • Charles Petrie 77

  • Adam Tridgell 77

  • Harry Goddard 78

  • Greg Hurley 81

  • Goncarlo Teodoro 83

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