Cameron tames the winds to lead championship

Doug Cameron

Doug Cameron tamed the winds today to take a one-shot lead into tomorrow’s final round of the English senior men’s amateur championship at Saunton, Devon.

He went round the West course in level par 71 today, despite Saunton throwing all its weather defence at the players.

This morning the rain hammered down. Later, as the clouds cleared and the sun came out, the winds steadily increased in strength. The combination pushed the cut up to 12-over par with 80 players qualifying for tomorrow’s final round.

But despite the testing conditions Cameron, pictured top, compiled a 36-hole total of one-over par and is targeting his first major senior title – and hopefully a return to the England senior team. He’s a shot ahead of Welsh international Nick Grimmitt, who won the Irish seniors last month, while four players are on four-over, led by Lancashire’s Tony Holt who beat par on the East course today

“It was brutal out there, but I’m delighted,” said Cameron (Henley), after battling the afternoon winds. He made a stuttering start to the round when he lost a ball en route to an opening double bogey, but he more than repaired the damage with birdies on the 3rd, 7th and 8th. “A couple of back-to-back birdies is rejuvenating,” he remarked.

He found the back nine tough in the cross winds, but steadily negotiated his way home. Cameron is in form, having finished third in Ireland, and would love to claim his first senior title. There’s also his ambition to return to the England senior team after an absence of five years. “I’d like my place back, I love competing,” he said.

Grimmitt (Glamorganshire), pictured left, was out in the worst of the rain but went round in in one-over par, repeating yesterday’s 71. He described conditions as horrendous, saying: “It was definitely the worst weather I’ve played in serious competition.”

Despite that he found the perfect start with a birdie on the first, commenting: “It settled me down. I started birdie, eagle yesterday and thought that couldn’t be beaten, but to start with a three today was very satisfying.”

“I played nicely, kept the ball under control and didn’t get into any serious trouble. I’m absolutely over the moon,” added Grimmitt, who joined senior ranks last year.

Tony Holt became the first player to beat par on the East course when he returned one-under 70. “It’s my best ever round in a major tournament without a shadow a doubt, I’m really pleased,” he said afterwards.

Despite starting in the heavy rain he played steadily, dropping just one shot on the way out and then picking up back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16. He sealed the score with a good up-and-down from a greenside bunker. Holt was in Lancashire’s winning team at the 2016 English Senior County Finals.

He’s tied with former champion Stephen East (Leeds Golf Centre), Rupert Kellock (Sunningdale) and overnight leader Richard Norton (Beverley & East Riding), who added 77 on the East to his opening 69. “It was tougher today in the wind and I hadn’t played the course before, but I’m still in it,” he remarked.

One of the most relieved players in the field was defending champion Richard Latham (Woodhall Spa) who made the cut in comfort when he added level par 71 to yesterday’s 79. “I just want to be playing tomorrow,” he said. “I played like my normal self today, just did what I do best, but yesterday was a joke.”

Also safely through is Duncan Hamilton-Martin (St George’s Hill), who made the cut on the mark. He’s got another big golfing date later this month when he will play as a member of the England Disabled Golf Team which will travel to Portugal for the European Disabled Team Championship, starting on June 28. Hamilton-Martin, a lower-leg amputee, has put together a pair of 77s in this championship and commented: “It’s been brilliant.”

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