English U18 Championship – Day One: Lewis passes exam with storming finish

McKenzie Lewis put the recent stress of exams behind him to conjure up a magical run of an eagle and three birdies in his final five holes to charge to the top of the day one leaderboard.

The Kenwick Park golfer is out on his own at the English Under 18 Championship at Woodhall Spa after posting a brilliant five-under par round of 67.

Lewis will carry a one-shot lead over Huddersfield’s Dylan Shaw-Radford and England Sam Easterbrook from Olton into day two.

Shaw-Radford, an early morning starter, had held the lead for most of the day with a four-under par round of 68 until Lewis’ storming finish catapulted him up the field into top spot.

Easterbrook’s short-game was mustard as he completed a bogey-free round late in the day to join Shaw-Radford in the clubhouse on -4.

Full day one leaderboard

But no-one could top the performance of Lewis.

The Lincolnshire lad is no stranger to the closing stretch of holes on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa.

Even with local knowledge, Lewis couldn’t have counted on the spectacular finish with the final three holes into a strong wind.

Incredibly, his finish could have been even better – an eagle putt on the 18th failing to drop.

After the pressure of sitting exams over the last month, a walk on the Hotchkin Course came as a real pleasure.

“I’ve just had GCSEs so I’ve now got a much clearer head going into the competitions,” confirmed Lewis.

“Having exams last week and my final one a couple of days ago, it’s very stressful having to practise golf and revise as well.

“At one point I didn’t know whether to revise physics or practise my putting!

“It’s tough to do, but I managed it.”

Lewis started his charge for the finish with an eagle on the par five, 14th and after a solid par at 15 picked up shots on each of the final three holes.

“The final five holes were pretty good,” he said with a degree of understatement.

“I’m still speechless and it’s a lot to take in.

“I have three more rounds and I’ll try and keep it steady.”

On a day of excellent scoring from the nation’s top juniors at the home of England Golf, the totals reflected the talent on show.

While the top four spots are held by boys, the girls remain firmly in the hunt for the one piece of silverware up for grabs.

Eve Neild (pictured above) from Royal Norwich joined a clutch of players – including defending champion Jenson Forrester – on two-under par to sit just three off the pace.

Neild’s club colleague, Chloe Tarbard, had six birdies in a one-under par round of 71, the same score as Tiphani Knight from Playa Serena.

There was an unusual occurrence on the 12th hole in the group featuring Maggie Whitehead, Seb Cave and Zach Little.

All three players holed excellent putts for birdie twos much to the delight of the watching spectators as well as the camera crew from Live Sport Now who screened live action from day one and will be present over the weekend for the finale to the 72-hole mixed stroke play event.

All golfers in the field will play a further 18 holes on Saturday. The top 40 players and ties will then go forward to play another 36 holes on Sunday.

 

Photography: Leaderboard