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  • Alistair Tait

A Family Affair For Gough Brothers

John Gough’s eyes went straight to one name when he lifted the English Amateur Championship trophy at Moortown yesterday. The name belongs to the 2019 champion: wee brother Conor.

For two years, John has had to cede the bragging rights in the Gough household to his younger sibling, not an easy task for an elder brother. John Gough is now forging a reputation to equal that of his brother. Question is, which brother will go furthest in this game?

John Gough took the title with a one-hole win over Tom Addy. That’s perhaps not surprising given Gough is 22 and Addy is just 17. Gough is also 1,106 places higher on the World Amateur Golf Ranking at 207th to Addy’s 1,313 place status. Gough has been as high as 169th.

Gough, who has just finished his fifth year of American college golf at the University of Charlotte, has had to sit in the background for the last couple of years while Conor garnered the headlines. Aside from winning the English Amateur two years ago, Conor played in the 2019 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team at Royal Liverpool. He’s also played a European Tour event. Conor teed it up in the 2019 British Masters at Hillside, an invitation that came about thanks to interest from a certain management group run by one Andrew “Chubby” Chandler. The 16-year-old Slough native missed the cut with scores of 77 and 74, but didn’t look a millions miles away from European Tour standard.

What a difference two years makes.

Conor was widely tipped to make this year’s Walker Cup team, but wasn’t even in contention when the 10 man team was selected to play the United States at Seminole. From a high of world number two after his English win, Conor is now 537th. Further proof that success in this game can be fleeting.

Meanwhile, elder brother John has three victories this year. He won the Linger Longer Invitational in March, and last month won the Palmetto Amateur by five shots. No wonder he’s overtaken his wee brother on the WAGR table.

Now we await to see where the brothers will go on their golf journey.

If they look down the list of former English Amateur champions they will see a formidable gallery of great winners. The names Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett, Paul Casey, Nick Faldo, Mark James, David Gilford, Andrew Oldcorn, Roger Chapman, Russell Claydon, Steve Richardson, Mark Foster, Richard Finch, Steven Brown, Callum Shinkwin and Michael Bonallack are all etched on the trophy. With the exception of Bonallack who remained a career amateur, the rest are all European Tour winners, or even major winners in the case of Faldo and Willett.

Yet, for every Casey there’s a James Heath who seemed destined for greatness but never made it on the European Tour. Ditto for the likes of Scott Godfrey, Shaun Webster, Aran Wainwright and others who qualify for the “whatever happened to” file.

Only time will tell if the brothers Gough go on to European Tour glory, perhaps emulating the famous Whitcombe brothers, Charles, Ernest and Reg, the only British siblings to play in the Ryder Cup together. Charles and Ernest played in the 1929 and 1931 matches, while Reg joined them for the 1935 contest.

Will the brothers Gough pen a golf fairy tale? Wouldn’t it be something if in a future Ryder Cup fans were singing “there’s only two Goughs?”

#JustSaying: “I think Conor was happy for me to get it, but he was a bit sour that he hasn’t got this over me now! It’s unbelievable to have it in our house for two years and it’s not the same person that’s won it.” John Gough

Photograph by Leaderboard Photography courtesy of England Golf

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