Wales’ young golfing sensation, Rhys Pugh, swung by the Vale Resort to show off his latest piece of golfing silverware – the European Amateur Championship Cup.
The Pontypridd 18-year old has just become the first ever Welsh winner of the European Amateur Championship, one of the world’s top amateur golf events, which has previously been won by Rory Mcllroy and Sergio Garcia.
He will now get an invite to next year’s British Open Championship at Muirfield as a result of winning the Championship – something he has always dreamed of.
Rhys Pugh started off his glittering golfing career with the Vale Resort’s Junior Coaching Programme in 2002 when he was just aged eight.
Since then, he has gone on to win three out of three matches for Great Britain and Ireland at the 2011 Walker Cup, the amateur equivalent of the Ryder Cup, and was awarded joint Wales Top Amateur Golfer of 2011 by the Golfing Union of Wales, along with Amy Boulden. He holds the record as youngest player to represent Wales, an honour he achieved as a 15-year-old in the 2009 Home Internationals.
Just last year, Pugh was crowned the BBC Cymru Wales Carwyn James Junior Sportsman of the Year after becoming the youngest ever person to win a Wales Amateur Order of Merit, and the only one to win both the Junior and Senior categories.
Rhys Pugh was keen to share his success with the club that has helped shaped his golfing career to date and so made sure he visited the Vale Resort to showcase his trophy before returning to East Tennessee in USA to resume his studies.
Rhys Pugh said: “I’m both excited and proud to be the first Welsh winner of the European Amateur Championship. I always thought I could do it. I really like the golf course as it sort of suits me. It’s quite long and I’ve been hitting it a bit further lately. However, as it was windy, it was a little tougher than expected, but I still managed to do it!
“It’s always been my dream to play the Open Championship since I started golf, so I’m very excited to be able to realise this in Muirfiled next year.
“I’ve been a member of the golf club at the Vale Resort for the last decade, and the teaching and encouragement I received from instructors there all those years ago has been invaluable grounding for my career so far.
“Whenever I am back from the States, one of my first calls is to my coach, former Wales National Coach, David Llewellyn, to arrange my coaching programme.”
Soon after Rhys began playing at the Vale Resort, staff soon realised that he was one to look out for.
Clive Coombs, golf manager at the Vale Resort, said: “Rhys was out on the course almost every single day and was completely dedicated to the sport. At the Vale, we aim to nurture young talent, and our young golfers become like members of an extended family.
“During Rhys’ many competitions he always knew that staff from the Vale were only a phone call away if he needed any help or advice, and we did everything we could to make sure he could play to the best of his ability”.
The new Junior Golfing Package at the Vale Resort at Hensol is aimed at enabling even more young people to take up the sport. Open to young people aged between 8-18 years, it includes free access to the Vale’s Academy Coaching Scheme, a copy of the Academy’s coaching manual and over 50% off Junior Membership subscription fee for the first year.
Mr Coombs, continued: “Rhys has achieved amazing results for one who is still so young, and to get an invite to play at the British Open Championship is quite simply fantastic. We’ve loved watching him go from strength-to-strength.
“The Vale Resort’s roots stem from its history as a golf club, and it’s a part of our heritage that we’ve always been proud of. There is certainly a renewed enthusiasm for sport following the Olympics – and great excitement that golf will feature as an Olympic sport for the first time in Rio in 2016. We’re hoping that this Olympic fever, combined with the start of the 2012 Ryder Cup and Rhys’s achievements, will inspire youngsters to pick up a club and lead to a surge of interest in the sport.”