England’s Alfie Plant won a dramatic three way play-off with a birdie on the fifth extra hole to become the European Amateur Champion at Walton Heath Golf Club – and book his place in The Open.
“It’s going to take a few days to sink in, but this couldn’t have happened at a better place. It’s brilliant,” said Plant, who saw off the challenge of defending champion Luca Cianchetti and Lorenzo Scalise, both from Italy.
Plant, from Sundridge Park, Kent, produced two crucial birdies to secure his victory. The first was on the 18th in regulation play, and he set it up with an eight iron approach which finished 3ft from the hole. The birdie three took his score to 15-under and, after Scalise and Cianchetti both finished with bogeys, it put him in the play-off.
The trio set off on a circuit of holes one, two and 18 which left Plant and Scalise deadlocked on level par, while Cianchetti, who was one over, was eliminated.
The pair returned to the first and Plant almost snatched the win when his 25ft birdie attempt popped in and out of the hole. But his par was matched by Scalise and they marched on to the second – where the Englishman scored that other crucial birdie, rolling in a 12ft putt for victory.
“It’s been a roller coaster of a year,” said Plant, who won the 2016 Lytham Trophy and secured England’s silver medal at the world championships, but has recently endured a run of disappointing results. “You’ve got to take the highs and the lows and I know I’ve been playing really good golf so it was only a matter of time.”
Plant’s victory earns him a place in The Open at Royal Birkdale from July 20-23 where he will be joined in the field by Luca Cianchetti who takes his place as a result of his 2016 win in the European Amateur.