Marcus Kinhult

Lands a Double Whammy to Win

Marcus Kinhult bounced back from a pair of bogeys to finish with back-to-back birdies and win his first piece of European Tour silverware at last year’s Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club.

The former amateur star fell one behind the clubhouse lead – set by Eddie Pepperell and Robert MacIntyre – after bogeying the 16th but made amends in the most emphatic fashion with a birdie on the par-5, 17th before a laser-like approach to 18 to set up a 12-foot victory putt.

“It’s a special feeling. I’d never experienced anything like that before, so it was unreal,” beamed Kinhult after receiving the trophy. “I’ve been dreaming about it for such a long time and to finally win is amazing.”

Defending champion Pepperell, having won this event at Walton Heath in 2018, had earlier set the target at 15-under after closing with a 66, while Scotland’s MacIntyre, who went on to be crowned the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, followed him to the top of the leaderboard after a superb eagle-birdie finish.

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With those scorecards signed and sealed, Kinhult was still out on the course and made birdie on the 17th to get to 15-under, alongside playing partner Matt Wallace. As they hit their drives down the difficult closing hole it looked like a four-man play-off was on the cards. However, Kinhult put paid to that notion with a sublime iron shot and then calmly rolled in the putt to win with a 16-under-par total.

“Out here the margins are so small and there were a lot of scenarios going down the last with four guys all on 15-under par,” said Kinhult. “I’m so happy I managed to pull it off and make birdie on the last.

“This is such a prestigious event and a nice trophy to have – to make the British Masters my first win is very special. The bogeys on 15 and 16 were tough to take, but I just tried to be patient and stay composed, and somehow I made those last two birdies.”

“This is such a prestigious event and a nice trophy to have – to make the British Masters my first win is very special.

“The bogeys on 15 and 16 were tough to take, but I just tried to be patient and stay composed, and somehow I made those last two birdies.”

Making birdies is something Kinhult has done throughout his career as he progressed from being one of the most promising amateurs in the game to becoming a fully-fledged European Tour winner.

The 23-year-old enjoyed a fruitful amateur career, the highlight of which was a three-month spell in 2015 during which he won the Junior Invitational in South Carolina, USA; the Lytham Trophy at Open Championship venue Royal Lytham & St Annes; and held the 36-hole lead at the European Tour’s Nordea Masters on home soil. Kinhult became the first non-American to win the Junior Invitational and followed the likes of Stephen Gallacher, Paul Broadhurst and Richard McEvoy as winners of the Lytham Trophy.

The youngster was blossoming into a fine prospect as a sudden burst came a year after he represented Sweden at the Summer Youth Olympics and the Eisenhower Trophy and he capped 2014 in Scotland as a member of Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup team. By the end of 2015 he felt ready to take on European Tour Qualifying School and finished the grueling six-round test in 17th place to earn his place among Europe’s elite players.

He promptly turned professional and turned his back on taking the collegiate route in the United States. However, life at the highest level proved tough for Kinhult and he struggled in 2016, making just two cuts, and by July he decided to drop down onto the Challenge Tour.

It proved a good decision for the still-developing Swede as he ended the season strongly with top tens at the Hainan Open and the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge, which set him up nicely for an assault on a full schedule on the Tour in 2017.

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It was during this season he gained confidence, with seven top tens, including runner-up at the season-ending NBO Oman Golf Classic Grand Final, which saw him finish the season fourth on the Road to Oman rankings and grab another shot at the European Tour.

Kinhult got right down to work, starting his season two weeks after the dust had settled in Oman with a T27 finish at the Hong Kong Open in November. He worked his way into eighth place after posting three rounds in the sixties but unfortunately stumbled to a final round 73.

However, he bounced back with some solid performances in the early stages of the 2018 season with three top-16 finishes in succession, including a third-place finish at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters which saw him earn over 100,000 Race to Dubai points.

He collected another big haul of points for a share of 12th place in his debut at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and then a fifth place finish at the Open de France – another Rolex Series event – propelled him further up the rankings.

He capped a fine first full campaign on the European Tour with a share of 22nd at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates to end the season 49th in the Race to Dubai standings.

Despite feeling ready to kick on, he started 2019 sluggishly, making just two cuts before he teed it up at Hillside Golf Club on the Lancashire coast, and once he got the flat stick rolling on the Southport Links he came into his own and stared down Wallace to join the long list of Swedish success stories on the European Tour.

From July onwards he found his consistency and didn’t miss a cut from then until the end of the season – when he finished with a flourish, narrowly missing out on a first Rolex Series title at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, after losing out to a superb up-and-down by Tommy Fleetwood in the play-off.

Kinhult’s last start on Tour was at the Qatar Masters in March – the last event before the lockdown – and he’ll be hoping his share of seventh place is a sign of things to come as he defends his Betfred British Masters title this week.