ENGLAND have won the World Cup in Japan. No, really, they have.

Inspired by Pinner Hill Golf Club's Matthew Richardson, the England Boys Golf Team lifted the Junior World Cup at the Kashikojima Country Club in Japan on Thurday, June 20.

Making his debut for the team, Richardson enjoyed even greater success on a personal level, where rounds of 69, 72 and 69 (the third round was rained off) assured him of top spot in the individual stakes.

Against 51 of the best young golfers representing 13 countries, including traditional golfing powerhouses such as the USA and South Africa, this performance is remarkable.

While his obvious talent had been recognised at a regional level, he did not fully register with the national selectors until April, when he was invited to attend the first of two English Golf Union-run Schools of Excellence at the beginning of the month.

Little more than a week later, Richardson confirmed his arrival on the national stage with a sensational debut victory against the country's best in his age-group in the Peter McEvoy Tournament at Copt Hill in the Midlands.

Injury restricted his participation at the second School of Excellence at the end of April, but national coach Keith Williams was still impressed.

"He is a very promising young player, one of the best junior players in England at the moment. I think it would be unfair to say he is not of equal talent to David Griffiths, and his attitude to the game and determination is excellent."

Tim Bush, Middlesex Golf Union Boys manager, agrees: "Matthew is at least equal to David (Griffiths). I think it would be fair to liken him to Justin Rose. He's certainly got equal potential."

Richardson's sudden spurt to the forefront of English junior golf suggests his calendar over the coming months will be fuller than he might have expected.

He has been included in the England Team for the European Boys Team Championships at the Reykjavik Golf Club, in Iceland, from July 9-13, and will also compete in the Carris Tournament (individual matchplay) at the Beau Desert course in the Midlands later the same month.

Following that is the Jacques Leglise Trophy a British versus European matchplay event at Lausanne, Switzerland, on August 30 and 31.

Williams added that on this form, Richardson must be "one of the favourites" to make the English team for the Home Internationals in the winter. Richardson returns on Sunday, June 23.

June 21, 2002 12:00