English Men’s Amateur – Day Three: Shaw-Radford leads charge to last 32

Dylan-Shaw Radford’s golden spell of form continued when he claimed the scalp of Olly Huggins in the round of 64 at the English Men’s Amateur Championship.

The Yorkshire teenager showed maturity beyond his years to win 3&2 against the England men’s squad player and book a place in the last 32 against Max Hopkins who edged out Ben Loveard on the 18th green.

The day produced a number of outstanding performances.

Ealing’s Jack Neill defeated Jack Bigham on the 17th hole while Jon Hopkins joined brother Max in the next round after beating Reece Goodyear.

George Ash won the battle with his good friend George Mason on the 21st hole – holing significant putts on the previous three holes to keep the match alive before draining a 12-foot birdie putt to win the match.

And Luke Poulter’s first experience of match play golf in a championship environment ended well with a win on the final hole against second seed Morgan Blythe.

Poulter – who made it through from stroke play by virtue of a countback – later described the day as ‘stressful!’

View full results from the round of 64 

For Shaw-Radford, a birdie putt on the first hole at Lindrick set the tone for the round and he had extended his lead to three up thanks to a 10-foot par putt on the 13th.

Huggins pulled one back with a par at the 14th but the match ended with handshakes on the 16th after Huggins lost a ball to the left of the green.

Shaw-Radford has enjoyed a great run this season with victory in the Scottish Boys’ Championship at Murcar Links and then a triumph last week in the Carris Trophy at Silloth.

But he understood this was a big moment in his season given Huggins’ experience.

“I knew it was going to be tough when I saw who I’d drawn,” confirmed the 17-year-old.

“I played nicely most of the day – one little missed putt on 14 but I’m happy with how I played today.

“I knew I had to be on the whole day – if he got ahead early doors he would probably keep that lead or extend it.

“Luckily, I got one up early and tried to keep that all day.”

Sam Easterbrook knows all about the ‘curse’ of the top seed having qualified last year in 64th spot and then dismissed the winner of the stroke play, Dominic Barron-Holden, in the first knockout stages.

This year his match with Jack Lee – laced with quality play throughout – went down to the wire.

A par three on the 18th hole was enough to secure the England boys’ squad member safe passage to the last 32 where he will face George Ash.

Clutch putts at key times in the round proved to be Easterbrook’s salvation.

“It wasn’t so much monster putts – they were mid-range but massive for keeping the momentum going” he said.

“It meant if I got ahead I could stay ahead.

“It was nervy – a great game. Not many bogeys and a lot of birdies.

“Being top seed was a little bit in my mind. I didn’t want it to be me that suffered the way Dom did last year when I was 64th seed and he was first.

“I knew there was a bit of pressure, but I can relax now and just see how far I can go.”

Ash’s win against Mason was a classic game between two good mates.

The golfer, from Hallowes near Sheffield, holed a 10-footer on 18 to keep the match alive.

Both players then birdied the first extra hole before Ash (pictured above) got up and down from 60 yards to extend the match to a 21st hole. A great iron shot and a 10-foot birdie putt secured the win.

He said: “It’s tough playing a friend, but we are good enough mates that we can put friendship to one aside and just crack on with the game.

“The putter has helped me out the last four holes so that was good.

“I haven’t played as well as I’d have liked to this season. The results haven’t been there. I took a couple of weeks off before this event to practise and try and get my game right and I feel in good shape.

“This is a course I know well so hopefully that helps.”

Lindrick member Mia Eales-Smith, who missed out by a shot in the women’s championship acted as caddie and Ash quipped: “Mia did well – apart from when she dropped my water bottle from The Open!

“It was nice to have her on the bag today because she knows the course as well as anyone.”

Bigham’s hopes of victory in this event were ended when Ealing’s Neill came up with one of the shocks of the round.

The 2&1 win was reward for Neill’s doggedness and the skill with the flatstick.

He said: “I was struggling a bit with the putter front nine, but it got hot on the way in and I holed some birdie putts.

“I’m playing ok – still hitting too many bad shots, but as long as the putter keeps working I should be ok.

“I played last year and missed the cut by a shot so it’s good to make progress this year.”

In the afternoon wave of players there were fine wins for players including Jack McPhail and Matt Millar.

Millar defeated England men’s squad player Zach Chegwidden by 4&2, but there was some joy for England internationals Jack Brooks and Mason Essam as they reached the next round.

Poulter’s win over Blythe in the first of the afternoon games was hard fought and left the son of Ryder Cup legend Ian (pictured above) drained for the experience.

A chip-in for eagle on the 16th was a round highlight for a player who fought back from being three down through eight holes.

“That was stressful,” he said after holing a three-footer on the last to win by a hole.

“It’s the first time I’ve played match play in a tournament.

“We just don’t play it in America apart from the US Am, but I do enjoy it.

“England Golf put on such a good event and I’m loving it so far – we’ll see how it goes from here!”

 

Photography: Leaderboard