THE European Amateur Golf Championship has been won by the likes of Rory McIlroy and Sergia Garcia – while in the last six years Ryder Cup sensations Ludvig Aberg and Viktor Hovland have both been within a whisker of claiming the trophy, which dates back to 1996.

But Basingstoke GC’s Charlie Forster (above) arrived in Denmark early this week determined to take another big step in his amateur career after missing out by a whisker on a place in the quarter-final of The Amateur Championship, at Ballyliffin, in Ireland, last week.

The Long Beach State University golf scholar made a bogey at the first-extra hole against Germany’s Laurenz Schiergen, having come back from one-down with two to play to force sudden-death.

Two years ago Forster, something of a late developer in golfing terms having only taken up the game seriously aged 16, reached the last four of the English Amateur Championship, at Lindrick, losing to George Ash on the last hole, when both players made bogeys, and Forster was trailing by one.

The disappointment in defeat was just as tough for Charlie to take as he travelled home for a change of clothes before flying to Denmark’s The Scandinavian GC, for this week’s 37th European Amateur.

The winner earns a spot in next month’s Open at Royal Troon – ironically where Corhampton’s Scott Gregory – the first Hampshire-born player to land the Amateur Championship – earned an invite and briefly led the Major after his first nine holes in the first round in 2016.

Gregory had triumphed over Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre in the Amateur Championship final at Royal Porthcawl, in South Wales, but Schiergan’s steady golf – that saw him make just two bogeys in two matches, including the win over Forster, prevailed.

He made 15 pars and a solitary birdie to knock out the Hampshire hope, and book his second appearance in the last eight in three years thanks to that par on the 19th.

Charlie Forster six-man

Basingstoke GC’s Charlie Forster went close to making the last eight in last week’s Amateur Championship, at Ballyliffin. Picture by ANDREW GRIFFIN / AMG PICTURES

The strength of the 144-strong field is just as strong for the 72-hole strokeplay championship, which gets underway on Wednesday on The Scandinavian’s New Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, just 25 miles from the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

When the event was last staged in Denmark in 2008 England were represented by Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell, who both went on to become winners on the European Tour.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry – who won the European Tour’s Irish Open as an amateur a year later – and Italy’s 15-year-old Matteo Manassero – who beat Hampshire’s Sam Hutsby in the 2009 Amateur Championship Final – also competed.

Big name Europeans such as 2018 Open winner Francesco Molinari and US Open winners Jon Rahm and Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick have also competed in the European Amateur, while Ryder Cup trio Lee Westwood (1993), Paul Casey (1999) and future Masters winner Danny Willett (2007) have all medalled in the championship.

Forster may not have earned a call-up into the England set-up yet, but another strong showing this week will cement his reputation as one of the most improved players in the country over the last three years, since he moved to Southeastern Louisiana University (SEL).

European Amateur winner Rory McIlory

Rory McIlroy was 17 when he won the European Amateur title at Italy’s Biella GC, near Milan. Picture by EUROPEAN AMATEUR GOLF ASSOCIATION

The 21-year-old came through the first round of the matchplay in Ireland last Wednesday by knocking out Spain’s Jose Luis Ballester Barrio, who will defend his European Amateur Champion title in Denmark, this week.

Also in the field is Denmark’s Jacob Skov Olesen – who became the first Dane to land the Amateur Championship in its 129-year history after beating Hertfordshire’s Dominic Clemons 4&3 in the 36-hole final.

Forster moved to California’s Long Beach State University a year ago after two very successful seasons at SEL where he claimed his maiden victory in the Southland Conference in September 2022, and was voted its Player of the Year in 2023.

Last summer, he also won the Peter Alliss Memorial Trophy at Royal Mid-Surrey, by two shots, having finished third in The Berkshire Trophy, one of the most prestigious 72-hole strokeplay competitions in the country, won by most of England’s amateur legends.

After a steady first season playing for the 105th ranked NCAA team – Long Beach won the Big West Championship – Forster has quietly gone about his business since returning to the UK a month ago, after finishing in fourth place in his final event of the US college season as Long Beach recorded their best-ever finish in the NCAA Regional Finals.

The Beach ace narrowly missed out on qualifying as an individual for the NCAA finals, which have been won by the likes of Tiger Woods (1996), Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and more recently US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau (2015).

Having helped Hampshire to victory against Kent in the opening South East League match of the season at the end of May, Forster began his preparation for the Amateur Championship in earnest, finishing ninth in the Scottish Amateur Strokeplay Championship, at Muirfield.

The European is arguably his toughest test yet, but Forster – who won the South of England Boys Open as well as the Hampshire Boys Championship in 2021 – is developing a habit of producing big performances on the bigger stages.


Long Beach State golf

Charlie Forster (fourth from right) celebrates Long Beach State’s victory in the Big West Conference Championship in April. Picture LONG BEACH STATE ATHLETICS

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