Among the favourites will be Spain’s Emilio Cuartero, who last year won the event at Royal Porthcawl aged just 16, beating Scotland’s Fraser Fotheringham in the final. The Barcelona-based 17-year-old will draw confidence from his good showing in July’s European Boys Team Championship. Cuartero starts his title defence at 7.05 on Tuesday morning against Sandy Bolton of Magnolia Park.
Also full of confidence will be Ireland’s Garth Boyd. Boyd came through The Boys Home Internationals at Royal County Down without losing a match, and will head to Little Aston hoping to finish his career at Boys level with a flourish. This will be the last attempt at The Boys Championship for the 18-year-old from Donaghadee, who is due to take up a scholarship place at the University of South Alabama in September. Boyd is drawn against Billy Downing of Truro in round one, and tees off at 8.44 on Tuesday.
Another of the favourites will without doubt be Sunningdale-based Stiggy Hodgson. Hodgson put in a good performance at The Boys Home Internationals, has shown great form this season including a victory in the Carris Trophy.
Though Hodgson will have a good chance to win, he is not the highest-ranked home player in the draw. Eddie Pepperell of Drayton Park, who tees off at 9.05 on Tuesday against Spain’s Antoni Ferrer, holds that distinction. The former Faldo Series winner certainly has a superb record in high-quality match play events: as well as making it to the semi-final of The Boys Championship last year, Pepperell also made it to the semis of the Spanish Amateur Championship in February.
Garth McGee of Malone Golf Club and Jonathan Bell of Royal Blackheath will also like their chances at Little Aston. Both played superb golf throughout the week at The Boys Home Internationals. McGee tees up at 6.58 on Monday morning against Hillingdon’s Michael O’Connor, while Bell plays in the very next group against Thomas Elissade of France.
Given that Spains previous winners of The Boys Championship include not only the defending champion but also Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia, it’s unsurprising that a strong Spanish contingent of 20 is in the field this year. But it’s a player from elsewhere in the Iberian peninsula who will perhaps attract more attention: Pedro Figueiredo, the impressive Portuguese 17-year-old who made it to the quarter-final of The Amateur Championship in June. Figueiredo was knocked out of that event by eventual winner Reinier Saxton, and, ironically, was knocked out of last year’s Boys Championship by Tommy Fleetwood, who was runner-up at Turnberry. Figueiredo’s week begins on Tuesday at 10.08 against David Wells of Mill Green.