German teen holds nerve to triumph at Muirfield

Falko Hanisch came out on top in a closely fought 36-hole final of the 90th Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield yesterday.

Falko Hanisch wins The 90th Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield. Picture: R&A
Falko Hanisch wins The 90th Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield. Picture: R&A

The 16-year-old German defeated Spain’s Alejandro Aguilera on the 37th hole to seal the biggest win of his young career.

It earns him a place in the Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s and Prince’s next year, and an exemption into final qualifying for the Open at Royal Birkdale.

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“I’m so happy, I can hardly believe it,” said Hanisch, who was three down after the first nine holes.

He added: “It was a very tough match and Alejandro played very well. I tried not to think about the occasion too much and just concentrate on enjoying playing golf.”

A member of the Stolper­ Heide Club in Berlin, Hanisch says he was lifted by the support of the Scottish spectators. “Sometimes it’s easier to play in other countries like Scotland because in your own country, everyone expects you to do well,” he said. “I like the Scottish people, they were very ­supportive.”

Hanisch certainly needed­ the support early on. In fair conditions on the East Lothian­ coast, it was his opponent from Madrid who stormed into a three-hole lead on the front nine.

Nevertheless, Hanisch won two holes in a row from the tenth to reduce the deficit.

“After the first nine holes, I was not confident and he was playing well” said Hanisch. “But I just said to myself ‘try and play better’ and thankfully it came together. Alejandro is a great player, I like his golf swing, he is very quick and his short game is unbelievable.”

Unable to be separated after 36 holes, the match went to sudden death.

Aguilera handed the advantage to Hanisch when his approach to the 37th hole went out of bounds, while his opponent safely found the heart of the green. The young German won by making a par putt from four feet.

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“In the last hole, my ball was in a divot and I couldn’t hit it so I lost because of that,” said Aguilera.

“If you told me on the first day that I would have reached the final, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m very happy as I came second.”