Wonder kid wows Europe

It appears Josh Armstrong's coach may have underestimated things when he described the 12-year-old as the best golfer for his age in Australia - the Canberra whiz kid has just conquered Europe.

Armstrong, who got his first set of clubs at two and was playing club competitions at six, is now the Junior European Champion after slaying the field by seven strokes during the three-round tournament at East Lothian in Scotland.

The 12-year-old from Nicholls even battled 40km/h winds on the final day and birdied the last hole for a grandstand finish. The Year 7 student at Burgmann School was the only player in the field of 70 to finish the tournament under par, carding a one-under 215.

Armstrong's win earned him a place in the International team to contest the Van Horn Cup against the best European golfers of the tournament in a format similar to the Ryder Cup. He also earned an invite to the World Junior Championships which will be held in San Diego, California next month.

Steve Whitelock, his coach at Gold Creek Golf Club, was impressed with his star junior's achievement at one of the world's most prestigious junior golf tournaments. The win lended credence to Whitelock's claim before the tournament that Armstrong is Australia's best 12-year-old golfer.

He said Armstrong and his parents were ''very excited'' when he spoke to them after the win.


''He said, 'Steve, it's the best I've ever played' and considering the conditions - 40km/h winds and rain - to shoot even par in those conditions is unbelievable,'' Whitelock said.

Whitelock told The Canberra Times earlier in the week that Armstrong, who is just short of six feet tall, was ''a short game specialist''.

''He's got the hands of Seve [Ballesteros] and I wouldn't say he's a long bomber but he certainly hits it a fair distance off the tee for a 12-year-old,'' Whitelock said of Armstrong's 250-metre drive. ''As he grows into his size 13 feet, and his gangly body, he's going to hit it a country mile.''

Whitelock has been coaching Armstrong since he was six, but he'd already been playing the game for a number of years under the tutelage of his father, David, a scratch marker and his caddy for the championship.

David said his son ''has been swinging golf clubs almost from the minute he could stand up''.

Armstrong led the championship from day one, taking a three-shot lead into the final round.