Big names tumbled today, including the defending champion Dan Brown, as the golf hotted up in the English amateur championship at The Berkshire.
Birdies and eagles were the talk of the day as the field was whittled down, first to 16 players and then to the eight who will contest the quarter finals tomorrow morning.
There’s just one England international left, the 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory (pictured). This morning he knocked out his team-mate, the French open amateur champion, Josh Hilleard (Farrington Park, Somerset), and then went on to beat Jay Beisser (Rayleigh, Essex) 2/1 in a dazzling game.
“We seemed to pretty much birdie every hole,” said Gregory, from Corhampton, Hampshire, who found himself two down after 10 holes. Back-to-back birdies got him all square, before he parred 14 and holed a 4ft eagle putt on 15 to get two ahead – and stayed there.
“It was a great game, I hit some good shots and Jay played great as well. I’m feeling good for tomorrow and hopefully I will try and get in the final again,” said Gregory, referring to 2014 when he was runner-up.
Other internationals fell throughout the day, with Dan Brown (Masham, Yorkshire) losing to Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park, Derbyshire) in the morning. In the afternoon, though, it was Moore’s turn to drop out, losing 2/1 to another Yorkshire player, Nick Poppleton (Wath).
Poppleton knocked out the top seed yesterday, sped off to a big win this morning and succeeded again in a close match this afternoon which was spattered with birdies – but, most importantly, a remarkable par on 16.
“I hit it left into Jurassic Park grass, found it, had a swipe but it stayed in there, had another swipe, got it on the green 15 or 20ft past the pin and holed it for par and a half.” It kept him ahead and a par on 17 saw him into the quarter finals.
England player Gian Marco Petrozzi (Trentham, Staffordshire) pulled out the stops in his morning match against No 2 seed David Corben (Hindhead, Surrey). He birdied 18 to go into extra time and birdied 19 to win, before losing 4/2 this afternoon to his county colleague Jack Gaunt (Drayton Park).
Gaunt also had a long morning, going to the 21st to beat Alister Balcombe (Clevedon, Somerset) but was on top form this afternoon. He started with three consecutive birdies and was six-under when he closed out the match on the 16th, having never dropped behind. The two players put on a show on the 15th, where they halved the hole in eagles.
There was more spectacular golf in the game between Jack Clarkson (Lancaster, Lancashire) and Aaron Siddell (Castle Royle, Berkshire). Between them they had two eagles and 15 birdies before Clarkson won on the last hole.
“I was pretty tidy on the back nine,” said Clarkson who was seven-under for the homeward half. The highlight was the par four 14th where his tee shot went into the trees and his recovery attempt with a seven-iron went straight in the hole for an eagle two. “It was a great game, a really great game.”
Jake Bolton (Ogbourne Downs, Wiltshire) was two up with five to play in his game when Andrew Wilson (Wynyard, Durham) pulled him back to all square after 16. They were still tied as they played 18 where Bolton holed a 15ft putt for a winning par.
Todd Clements (Braintree, Essex) came through a tight game to win 2/1 against Joe Long (Lansdown, Gloucestershire). Meanwhile Tom Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge, Somerset) booked his place in the quarter finals with a 20th hole win over Tom Forster (Oundle, Northamptonshire). Both players birdied 19 and Sloman’s birdie putt was conceded on the 20th.
The remaining game of the afternoon pitted the youngest player left in the field, 18-year-old Alex Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire, Yorkshire), against the oldest, Martin Young (Brokenhurst, Hampshire), a past winner of the mid-amateur Logan Trophy.
Young took the early advantage and was two up after an eagle on nine and a birdie on 10, but Fitzpatrick clawed back the holes and then made his winning move with a par on 16 and a birdie concession on 17 where his pitch finished 2ft from the hole.
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