Silver medalist Alfie Plant captures golf world's attention at Open

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Silver medalist Alfie Plant captures golf world's attention at Open

Amateur

Silver medalist Alfie Plant captures golf world's attention at Open

SOUTHPORT, England – A home video shows Alfie Plant when he was 3 years old, hitting golf balls in his family’s backyard in Bexleyheath, England, a suburb of London. His polo, pants and tennis shoes, all matching in red and white, swallowed the young Plant as his father, Darren, recorded.

The first shot on the video hit its intended target, a playset about 50 yards away, the ball bouncing up a slide and through an opening at the top.

“Alfie Plant, the best golfer in the world,” the youngster said.

Swing.

“No. 1.”

Swing.

Twenty-two years later, Plant competed among the best golfers in the world at Royal Birkdale. And in his first major championship the 25-year-old earned the silver medal as low amateur at the 146th British Open.

“This is all he’s ever worked for,” said Emma Plant, Alfie’s mother. “Ever since the age of 3, he’s had a golf club in his hand. This is just his dream come true; I just want to cry. … I’m the proudest mum there could ever be.”

There were many proud supporters in Alfie’s gallery at Royal Birkdale, including parents, grandparents and childhood friends. (Alfie’s brother, Albert, had caddie duties.) Most of the group wore t-shirts and hats, 100 of them ordered by Darren, adorned with the hashtag #TeamAlfie. Some carried signs. Darren draped an English flag over his shoulders like a cape.

By Sunday, Alfie’s supporters had grown to about 150 people. The house Plant is staying in this week in Formby started with four people – Alfie, Albert, Darren and Alfie’s coach, Warren Wood. On Saturday night, some 15 people were staying there, many sleeping on couches and air mattresses. A good bit of the rest stayed at a campground in Southport.

All of them were in the 18th hole grandstands to give Alfie a booming ovation as he wrapped up his first Open.

“It sent shivers down my spine walking up the last,” Alfie said. “… I’ve been on such a high all week, and I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it.”

 

Team Alfie cheers on amateur Alfie Plant on Sunday at the British Open. Getty Images)

Alfie is a world-class amateur – ranked 32nd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – from a working-class background. Darren is a former cobbler, and Emma works for Royal Mail. Alfie wasn’t born with a silver spoon, though he now has a silver medal.

“Just surreal,” Darren said. “To get the silver medal, the way he performed … absolutely world class.”

Last year, Plant won the Lytham Trophy and helped England to a second-place finish at the World Amateur Team Championships. On July 2 he captured the European Amateur with a birdie on the fifth extra hole at Walton Heath. The victory came four days before his 25th birthday and just six days after the death of his great-grandmother, Joyce Haynes, who was 96. (Plant had “Do it for your nan!” emblazoned on his golf bag at Royal Birkdale, and Haynes’ funeral is set for Tuesday.)

With his 6-over showing at the Open (71-73-69-73), Plant’s credentials certainly will earn him a spot on the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, which competes Sept. 9-10 at Los Angeles Country Club. Captain Craig Watson’s 10-man team will be announced Aug. 21. (Plant plans to turn pro after the event and play European Tour Q-School.)

“I thought he was in anyways,” Darren said. “After winning the European Amateur, I never had any doubts he wasn’t on that team. This just took him to another level.”

The GB&I squad not only gets a top-notch person, but a big personality. Affable Alfie is a self-admitted adrenaline junkie. He has bungee-jumped off the tallest bridge in South Africa. He’s gone cage-diving with great white sharks, and walked with lions. On his 16th birthday he went skydiving, and in 2012 he ran the London Marathon. Even his favorite soccer team, Millwall FC, has a reputation for having arguably the rowdiest fans in England.

Everything he does seems to have flair. His girlfriend’s name? Daisy Meadows.

“Will draw a few chuckles at the church if things go as planned,” Plant said with a big smile.

 

Alfie Plant, pictured with Luke Donald at the 2003 British Open

Yet, Plant’s biggest athletic passion is the seemingly tranquil sport of golf. Alfie had his first lesson at age 4, and seven years later he attended his first British Open at Royal St. George’s in 2003.

“We have pictures of him with Luke Donald and a host of others,” Darren said. “That was his first memory of getting photos and autographs.”

Alfie took photos with players this week, too, posing with the likes of Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott. Only this time he was inside the ropes – and, boy, did he play well. Plant joins names such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as low amateurs at the Open.

“Hopefully I’ll follow in their footsteps,” Plant said of Woods and McIlroy, two former World No. 1s.

If he does, that video of a 3-year-old Plant hitting balls in the garden will prove prophetic.

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