Toby targets another English title

GOLFER Toby Tree has his eyes on an unprecedented hat-trick of English titles after his superb start to 2012.

Southwater ace Tree won the Gauteng North Open at Pecanwood Golf Club in South Africa after posting an astonishing -17 under-par total. The 17-year-old England boys international shot rounds of 69, 66, 66, 70 to beat Zander Lombard by two shots, and fellow Springbok Brandon Stone by four.

And the former England under-14 and under-16 champion, who carded three eagles and 21 birdies, wants to add the under-18 title, the Carris Trophy, to his collection, and become the first golfer to complete a clean sweep. He also has the 2011 Sir Henry Cooper Masters to his name.

Speaking from South Africa, he said this week: “I will complete the triple if I win that, it has not been done before, and if I play well, then I should win.”

The win in South Africa was the Worthing GC member’s first on foreign soil, and he only entered while visiting fellow top amateur Haydn Porteous, and he believed the 7,800 yard Jack Nicklaus-designed Pecanwood course suited his game to a tee.

Toby added: “There were a lot of bunkers and the greens were pretty quick and it took a little while to get the feel. I liked the course in practice and felt that it suited me. I hit the ball pretty long and ball striking is one of my strengths. So if I drove it well I would have a good chance.”

An English victory looked remote when his opening 69 left him eight strokes behind Scotsman Paul Shields, who shot a sensational 61, but while Shields faded, Toby claimed a one stroke advantage going into the final round, and held Lombard off with a closing 70.