English Under 25 Championship: Mason and Kerrigan out in front

George Mason and Julia Kerrigan emerged from the pack to share top billing on day one of the English Under 25 Championship at Woburn.

In the men’s event, Yorkshireman Mason carded a brilliant six-under par round of 66 to lead by two shots from Branston’s James Bailey and, playing in the final group of the day, Robert Holden from Letchworth.

In total, nine players in the men’s field found the secret to Woburn and posted red figures.

Kerrigan dealt superbly well with the tight fairways on the pristine Duchess Course to post a one-over par round of 74 in the women’s championship.

England international Hannah Screen is one of three players  just a shot back on +2.

Scoring: Day One Leaderboards

 

Men’s Championship

George Mason hit Route 66 to motor into a commanding position after day one of the inaugural English Under 25 Championship.

The Yorkshireman fired seven birdies in a six-under par round to lead by two shots from Branston’s James Bailey and Letchworth’s Robert Holden.

Moor Park’s Arran Kanth was a further shot back after a -3 round of 69.

The tight fairways and compact greens of Woburn’s par 72 Duchess Course didn’t appear to trouble Mason as the golfer from Wath reached the turn in two under par.

The back nine was even better – a birdie at 10 and then three in a row from the 14th allowed Mason to sign for a score that never looked in danger of being overtaken by any of the afternoon wave of players.

Mason has enjoyed a decent summer so far with a top ten finish in the Brabazon Trophy and a run in The Amateur Championship.

This week’s venue with its need for accuracy over power might just suit Mason to a tee.

He said: “I played quite well. I got lucky and took advantage of my luck.

“I’m fairly straight and hit greens and then take my chances, that’s it really.

“You’ve got to believe and be confident or you get nowhere in life. Let’s see how tomorrow goes.”

Bailey’s four-under par round was built on a storming finish. Two birdies and an eagle in his final six holes brought the Branston golfer home in 33 and leaves him handily-placed to attack over the closing 36 holes.

For Kanth, a round of 69 was one he dedicated to his parents Jaz and Manisha who  this week celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.

Dad Jaz was with him on the course and it made for fine viewing.

Five birdies and just two dropped shots allowed Kanth – back from his studies in Georgia for the English summer – to serve up a fine performance.

Also in the hunt at one-under par is Calum Fitzgerland from Wiltshire.

His round of 71 earned him the bragging rights over twin sister Maya who teed it up in the women’s event!

The 18-year-olds were followed by mum Marie who tried to split her time between the two groups and give equal backing to both children!

 

Women’s Championship 

Julia Kerrigan’s ‘grip it and rip it’ policy paid off as she stormed to the top of the women’s leaderboard.

The Hendon golfer opted to take driver on most of the holes despite Woburn’s narrow fairways encouraging many competitors to take hybrids off the tee.

The fact Kerrigan was laser-like off the tee most of the day then gave her the advantage with shorter approach shots to small targets.

And it showed in a scorecard featuring three birdies and just three dropped shots – two of which came in the closing three holes as the fatigue on a hot and muggy day came into play.

Kerrigan said: “I hit driver every hole apart from the par threes. I do like to hit my driver pretty straight and it went well today.

“The best thing for me to do is think and whack it! I was hitting it well today and that left me a lot of wedges into greens.

“It’s tight but luckily I was hitting the driver very well and I got a couple of lucky bounces which I’m thankful for.

“My putting made my day – I was holing the four footers which is important.

“My irons were good too and the putts that didn’t drop today will hopefully drop tomorrow.”

Kerrigan is currently studying kinesiology and psychology at the University of Texas in Tyler, just a few hours from Dallas.

She added: “It’s sport-related and it’s all about having a positive mindset. Hopefully that shows this week.

“Having just got back from America, I wasn’t coming here to win – but leading is nice.”

Hannah Screen, a member of the winning England team at last year’s women’s Home International, has graduated from college in Oklahoma and is focusing on her next move.

A career in the media beckons, hopefully, for the Berkhamsted golfer who still has plenty to offer in the world of amateur golf.

Australian Abbie Teasdale also posted a round of 75 to sit on +2 after the first round – helped in no small measure by a fine back nine.

After starting with three bogeys, the golfer from Royal Fremantle in Western Australia bounced back and played the final nine holes in one under par to post a highly respectable score on a track that is unforgiving to any competitor starying even marginally off line.

Isabella Kent from Castle Royle and Woodhall Spa’s Tilly Garfoot also signed for rounds of 75 and +2.

Garfoot’s round was something of a rollercoaster with a pair of twos, a couple of unfortunate doubles and a very handy eagle on the 14th included in her tally.

Even if her final tally wasn’t too noteworthy, Scotland’s Katy Alexander (pictured above) did have a shot that will linger long in the memory.

The golfer from Blairgowrie enjoyed a hole-in-one on the 7th – a five-iron from 179 yards finding the bottom of the cup.

 

Photography: Leaderboard