Tournament Newsroom

Tom Stagg
12 July 2016

International tie at the top in weather hit McGregor Trophy

There’s an international tie at the top in the McGregor Trophy with English, Dutch and Danish players setting the pace before bad weather interrupted the first round at Royal Ashdown Forest in Sussex. 

Play was abandoned for the day after an early evening thunderstorm, followed by torrential rain which flooded the greens. The first round will resume at 7.30am tomorrow. Second round start times in the English U16 boys’ open stroke play championship will remain as published.

Before the suspension four players were tied for the lead after scoring one-under par 71: Tom Stagg of Wiltshire, Thom Hoetmar from the Netherlands, Nicolai Hojgaard from Denmark and George Raitt from Leicestershire.

Right behind them are a group of three players on level par, and a further six on level par, including competitors from Italy, Spain and South Africa, emphasising the international status of this championship.

It draws the cream of U16 golfers from across Europe and beyond and this year they face the heathland challenge of the Old Course at Royal Ashdown Forest.

The leaders knew what they had to do: drive it straight and keep out of the deep rough. Stagg, from Salisbury & South Wilts, said: “This course is tough if you miss the fairway, because the rough is very thick. I hit a lot of fairways, that was key, and I putted ok.”

He had four birdies during his round, helped by his straight driving and a sure touch on the greens and said: “I’m happy with where I stand, it’s only going to get tougher,” he remarked prophetically, with a glance at the darkening sky.

George Raitt (Whetstone) played through the worst of the weather, coping with a series of heavy showers and getting in just before play was suspended. A 35-footer on the second gave him his first birdie but he made his score with a combination of good driving and accurate wedge play and was three-under for the par fives.

He finished with a string of six pars, commenting: “I thought on the 12th that if I got in on one-under it would be a good score so I just focussed on making pars.”

Hoetmar and Hojgaard  (pictured left) played together and returned similar cards, each with three birdies.

Hoetmar, 15, signed off with a 30ft putt for a birdie three on the 18th and said: “I played very good, there’s always something that could be better, but I’m happy.”

Hojgaard, also 15, added: “It’s a tough course and you need to be good from the tee box, but I think it’s a great course.”

He got off to a quick start and, helped by good driving, was three-under after 11.  “I played very good, a couple of mistakes cost me two bogies, that was disappointing, but I am ok with the score.”

Hojgaard is a twin and his brother, Rasmus, is the Danish international amateur champion and part of the chasing pack.

Rasmus, who is two shots back, warned with a smile: “We are competitive with each other, we compete in everything!” Like his brother he took the early opportunities, particularly on the par fives, but finished on one-over after a triple bogey and a bogey in the last three holes.

“I played well for the first 15 holes and was three-under,” he said. “Another bad closing, I do it every time in the first round.” However, he was not alone because the tough closing holes proved costly to many players.

Royal Ashdown Forest is represented in the championship by Oliver Smith who returned three-over 75. Defending champion Ignacio Puente from Spain had just one birdie in his opening 79.

After tomorrow’s second round the field will be cut from 144 players to the leading 40 and ties. They will play the final 36 holes on Thursday.

Click here for scores.

Images © Leaderboard Photography

 

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