English Men’s Amateur – Day One: Huggins enjoys the highs at Headingley

Olly Huggins revealed even the frustration of failing to take full advantage of the par fives at Headingley could not take away from the satisfaction of topping of the rankings after day one of the English Men’s Amateur Championship.

The England men’s squad player carded a five under par round of 66 to lead the field by one shot going into Wednesday’s second day of stroke play qualifying.

Huggins’ round allowed him to edge ahead of Pannal’s Oliver White and Joseph McDonagh-Brown from Wrotham Heath who both posted rounds of 67 around the same Headingley track.

There are four players a further shot back on three under par including former England boys’ squad members Max Hopkins from Bishops Stortford and Torquay’s Craig Passmore.

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The competitors who played Moortown Golf Club on day one will now hope that the pattern of lower scores from Headingley continues when the players in the field swap courses for day two.

The top three players on day one all started the championship at Headingley.

The best score of the day at Moortown was three under the card – a number shared by Dominic Barron-Holden (Kendal), Luke Spooner (Sundridge Park) and Steve Capper (Royal Liverpool).

Frilford Heath golfer Huggins said: “I played really good even if I didn’t get off to a great start and was one under through nine having not birdied either of the par fives.

“It was a solid back nine with four birdies in a row and I was pretty pleased.

“I hit it to about a foot on three of them and holed a 25-footer on the par five having chipped out the trees again.

“It wasn’t ideal. If I drove it in the fairway it would have been better – but never mind.”

Huggins – like most of the field – is only targeting a place in the match play stages, but knows form from the stroke play can carry forward.

And his love of match play gives him hope for the week.

“I do like match play so we’ll see what happens and who I play,” he added.

Both courses were bouncy and running fast, but that might not be the case for Wednesday.

Thuderstorms and rain – which caused an hour’s delay on day one – may well have softened both courses defences for the second round.

White – trailing Huggins by a single shot – was able to share a smile after his round at Headingley and blame his caddie for costing him a potential birdie.

There was no major fall-out, however, as the bag man was his dad!

He added: “My father gave me the wrong yardage on 17 – actually 182 and told me 192. I flew one straight into a gorse bush and got it up and down and then birdied the last.

“He’s going to need a lesson on how to use a Bushnell!”

Joining White on four under was McDonagh-Brown who knows that he left a few shots out on the course even if the total was pleasing.

He confirmed: “I played pretty solidly after not getting off to the quickest of starts. Had to get up and down a few times.

“I didn’t hole anything of length apart from on 17, but I played the par 5s nicely.

“In general the result was good, but there’s lot of room for improvement.”

 

Photography credit: Leaderboard