Welshman Matt Roberts took advantage of perfect conditions to shoot a brilliant round of 65 and edge into the lead after day one of the Brabazon Trophy.
In benign weather at Ganton Golf Club, Roberts carded a hugely impressive six under par round to lead by a single shot from England international Sam Bairstow and by two from Essex’s Zachary Chegwidden.
The three-club wind from the practice day was replaced by flat calm conditions that remained from the first tee time at 7am until the last group finished 12 hours later.
Roberts’ score was, however, still laced with shots of real quality and on a fast-running course with immaculate greens, his haul of eight birdies in 18 holes was to be applauded.
After coming home in 31 shots, Roberts admitted that he would have snapped your hand off if offered his score before a ball was struck.
“I would have taken it and ran,” confirmed Roberts who plays his golf at Royal Porthcawl.
“I’m happy with how I played and I putted decently.
“We’ve been battling the elements in past few events, so it was nice to go out and play some golf.”
As well as finishing strongly, Roberts was quick out the blocks with birdies at the opening two holes.
But there was a heart in the mouth moment after his first shot of the day aimed over gorse on the right edge of the hole drew some advice from the starter.
“I hit my drive at the first and the starter said I’d better hit a provisional,” admitted Roberts.
“The first one was fine and I hit it to two feet and then holed a nine-footer on the next and then I was ready to go.
“I put one close on 10 and made a 30-footer on 11 and got it going. It was decent.
“I feel like from today I made birdies and can actually score.
“Now I have to do the same tomorrow and try to go low and see where we are.”
It was no surprise to anyone who has watched him play golf this summer that Yorkshireman Bairstow (pictured below) was high up the leaderboard.
With accuracy off the tee a key feature of playing Ganton, Bairstow showed his class with five birdies and no bogeys in a round that left him satisfied with a good day’s work.
“It’s nice to play with no wind, but it’s still a tough test and to go round in five under is very pleasing,” admitted Bairstow who knows the undulations of Ganton like the back of his hand.
“I’ve played it 20 or 30 times and know it quite well so I hope that stands me in good stead,” he confirmed.
“We had English Am at Moortown as well – it’s nice to play the two biggest events on the England Golf calendar in Yorkshire.
“I’ve played pretty well this year so hopefully this is my week.
“There’s a few tee shots that are challenging – but the condition of the course is the best I’ve ever seen it. I’m putting really well so I hope I can keep that going.”
Another man to make the most of the weather was Orsett golfer Chegwidden.
The winner of the Berkshire Trophy in June knows how to get over the line and was thrilled with his total even if the route to his 67 was winding.
“It was pretty colourful!” he said with a laugh.
“I started with a par – nice way to start – then birdie, birdie, then chucked in a bogey, a birdie, another bogey and a birdie and then two bogeys to finish a shaky front nine.
“I found it on the back nine. It didn’t do the heart much good, but there you go!
“I went out there to shoot level par. In practice it was seriously windy and thought it was the hardest golf course I’d ever played.
“That threw me a little for today when it was calm.
“I feel like I’m ready to win an event like this. I won the Berkshire Trophy earlier in the year but there’s still a long way to go and a lot of golf to be played.”
Harvey Byers and Mason Essam came in with well crafted rounds of 68 to sit tucked behind the top trio.
Italian Riccardo Fantinelli – second in The Boys’ Amateur Championship last weekend – joined Scotland’s Rory Franssen at two under par.
English Amateur champion John Gough and the winner of this year’s English Open for Golfers with a Disability – Kipp Popert – also posted notable rounds of 70 (-1).