Sleaford golfer Hopkins ties fourth at Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf Champs

Hopkins had a share of the lead after 24 holes EMN-171116-172941002
Hopkins had a share of the lead after 24 holes EMN-171116-172941002

Exciting young golfer Will Hopkins has his eyes on the prize after finishing fourth in a prestigious national junior golf championship.

His namesake Max Hopkins (14) became the youngest-ever winner at the 33rd Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf Championship, held at Portugal’s Quinta do Lago resort.

Hopkins signed a four-year scholaship with Kansas State University while in Portugal EMN-171116-172930002

Hopkins signed a four-year scholaship with Kansas State University while in Portugal EMN-171116-172930002

Will finished six shots off the leader after posting scores of 70, 77 and 73 on the North Course.

He had been the leading qualifier from hundreds of young golfers with just 12 going through to the boys’ final.

And having met Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley, the 17-year-old is keen on a return to the Algarve.

He said: “We met Paul McGinley during a media training session and he said to be myself and do things my own way in the way I conduct myself and practise.

Will poses for publicity photos ahead of the finals EMN-171116-172953002

Will poses for publicity photos ahead of the finals EMN-171116-172953002

“He said a lot of wise words and it was great to speak to someone of his calibre and what he has achieved. I will never forget that.”

Will was right in the hunt after a mature opening round of two-under par which left him tied for second and just one shot behind leader Ben Jones.

The former Sleaford Golf Club member made birdies at the 10th and 12th holes and safely negotiated the rest for par to finish the first day as the only golfer in the field not to drop a stroke.

Will then hit the top of the leaderboard after six holes of the second round with back-to-back birdies and looked in good shape to cap a superb year with another huge prize.

Hopkins believed his putting let him down on alien greens EMN-171120-170056002

Hopkins believed his putting let him down on alien greens EMN-171120-170056002

But dropping six shots in a tough back nine left the Carre’s Grammar School pupil with a mountain to climb going into the final round.

“I gave it a good challenge and I was in the mix,” he added. “The putting was the difference for me as the greens were so different to what they are back home.

“I played really solid from tee to green and fingers crossed I can qualify and come back next year.

“The event is really condensed and playing in front of the TV cameras was certainly something I wasn’t used to.

“Playing in a field of such high quality was just brilliant. It was a fantastic event and I enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would.”