French teenager Jean Bekirian takes a one-shot lead into tomorrow’s final round of the Carris Trophy after an exciting, but blustery day at West Sussex Golf Club.
The 15-year-old (pictured top) is six-under par after his best day yet in the English U18 boys’ open championship, carding a bogey-free round of three-under 65. “Today is moving day – and I moved,” he said.
He’s being chased by Italy’s Andrea Romano, who soared up the leaderboard with his five-under 63, the low round of the championship so far and a new course record at West Sussex.
England’s Robin Williams is also firmly in the mix. He joined the lead on six-under after a brilliant spell on the back nine when he had three birdies in four holes, but slipped back to three-under with dropped shots on 16 and 17.
“It was disappointing,” said the 15-year-old boy international from Peterborough Milton. “All through the front nine I knew things were going to turn out good and I was just waiting for the one thing to click. I made a good birdie on 12 and the putts started to drop.”
He added more birdies on 13 and 15, but then found trouble in the heather on 16 on his way to a double bogey and failed to get up and down for par on 17. “I didn’t really focus and stick to my game plan. I kept trying to push and make more birdies and that was my mistake,” said Williams.
However, he’ll be in the final group tomorrow and says: “I’m not far behind, anything can happen.”
In the group ahead of him, the lead changed hands between Italy’s Julien Paltrinieri, who was six-under at the start of the day, and Bekirian. Paltrinieri started well and got to eight-under, but his score slipped as he caught bunkers and missed greens in the gusting winds. He ended the day tied with Williams in a share of third place.
Bekirian, meanwhile, was drawing on the experience of playing in the wind which he gained in the recent Scottish U16 championship. “It was very good practice,” he said as he described how he learned to play a shot without spin.
It stood him in very good stead as he conjured up birdies on the first two holes and on the 15th, alongside some fighting par saves.
“This is my best day of the competition, I had three birdies and no bogeys, that’s very good. I hit a lot of greens and the chipping was very good for par.”
The round of the day came from Romano, the Italian U18 champion. He started the championship with four-under 64, dropped back in the second round with 72, but came storming back with today’s 63.
He got off to a fast start with birdies on the first two holes and reached the turn at three-under. He had another birdie on the difficult par three 12th, which he described as a bonus, and yet another on the 15th where he holed from 30ft. The tricky 16th cost him a shot after he tangled with the heather, but he had a chip-in birdie on 17 and finished with a steady par.
“I shall just be focussed tomorrow and believe in it. It’s my character, I never give up, I always believe.”
Two players are two-under: Italy’s Kevin Latchayya and Scotland’s Eric McIntosh; while the Netherland’s Jerry Ji is one-under. England’s Jack Cope (The Players Club, Gloucestershire) and Ben Quinney (Bearsted, Kent) are both level par.
Images copyright Leaderboard Photography