England's Conor Gough set the first round pace in the Reid Trophy with a score of three-under 67 on a drizzly day at Porters Park Golf Club in Hertfordshire.
The 13-year old heads an international leaderboard in the English U14 boys' open championship, with players from the Czech Republic, Spain, France and Ireland among those in the top 10.
But Gough, from Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire, is leading a strong English challenge. Closest to him is Luis Witherall from Cherwell Edge in Northamptonshire, who beat par in competition for the first time today with his 69.
Cheshire’s Oscar Doran (Delamere Forest) shares third place on level par while Dominic Clemons from Gog Magog in Cambridgeshire shot one-over 71 and is in a group of five sharing seventh place.
Gough (?Image © Leaderboard Photography) set the standard early in the day with a round which included four birdies and just one bogey. “I'm very pleased, I was hoping for about level par, so this is much better – but it's only the first round," he said.
He came into this event in fine form, having just won the U15 Douglas Johns Trophy by three shots and finished in the top 10 at last month’s English U16 championship for the McGregor Trophy.
Today, he started on the 10th and got off to a quick start with two birdies in his first three holes. After a steady string of pars he got to three-under on the first, a short par four of 254 yards where his drive with a three wood went 30 yards through, but his chip back finished within a foot of the hole. Another birdie on the fourth – where he holed from 25ft – got him to four under, but a wayward drive which finished in the trees on the seventh cost him his only bogey.
Witherall came in towards the end of the day with his 69, remarking: “I was hitting greens and two-putting most of the time, but when I missed the greens I got up and down a lot. I kept my head after a bad shot and just moved on from it.”
He has worked hard towards this event and added: “I’ve been practising really hard for this and today it’s paid off.”
Cheshire's Oscar Doran (Delamere Forest) is in a group of four players who scored level par 70 today, putting together a remarkably steady round. He started with birdies on the first and second and then had 13 straight pars before dropping a couple at the end of his round.
“I finished bogey, par, bogey which was quite disheartening, but I'll take level par," said Doran who is the Cheshire U14 and U16 champion.
Good driving was the key to his scoring and when he did hit a wayward one into the trees on 17 he still had the answer, hooking his second around the trouble and onto the green to set up a par.
Among the others sharing third place is Casey Jarvis of South Africa, who has made the trip to play this event and the Scottish U14 championship and has arrived in good form. He matched five birdies with bogeys and said afterwards: “I’m happy overall. I wanted to be in contention going into the second round.
“I played pretty good, I missed a few greens on the back nine but I was hitting my driver really well and my putting was good. The rain was difficult at one point but I played my way through it.”
After tomorrow’s second round the field of 144 competitors will be cut to the leading 70 players and ties who will play the final 18 holes on Thursday.
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