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.
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.
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.
— TelegraphJuniorGolf (@TelegraphJunior) November 7, 2017
ROUND 1 - Telegraph Vitality Junior Championships
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
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