England’s Josh Hill and Estonia’s Joonas Turba shot four-under par 67 to share the first round lead in the McGregor Trophy at Burnham & Berrow Golf Club, Somerset.
Turba, who came in late in the day, dented a strong English challenge which saw home players dominate the top of the leaderboard.
Boy international Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton) is breathing down the leaders’ necks in the English U16 boys’ open championship. Meanwhile Harry Crockett (Addington Palace), George Young (West Malling) and Habebul Islam (Ipswich) share fourth place on 69. George Leigh (Trevose), Zack Bacon (Littlehampton), Ben Pierleoni (Berkhamsted) and Charlie Hilton (Ifield) are in a seven-strong group on one-under 70.
The players are chasing a title which has been won by Justin Rose and Eduardo Molinari and they opened their campaign on a hot, breezy day.
The conditions clearly suited many of the field, with 16 players equalling par or better – and the warm weather certainly didn’t ruffle 13-year-old Hill (pictured top). He has lived in Dubai all his life and laughed: “It was 46 degrees when I left!”
He made his score on the way out with four birdies and an eagle three in the first eight hole and, after a couple of bogeys, played steadily home with a solid string of pars: “I was getting excited but trying to keep my cool so I could keep playing good,” he said.
Hill (Jumeirah Golf Estates) has enjoyed plenty of success at home, winning the Faldo Series Middle East Championship in March, when he was five under for 54 holes, and topping the junior order of merit in Dubai.
Turba’s round started at a great pace and he was five under after six, with an eagle on the par four 3rd, where his drive finished a yard from the hole.
“I haven’t played well for one or two months, but now it’s fine,” he said. “I like the course and the greens are perfect, it’s easy to putt here.”
Turba, who has previously played in the Junior Open, will celebrate his 16th birthday on Thursday – and is eyeing a special present. He’s also hoping the wind will get up: “It makes it more interesting,” he said.
Williams (Peterborough Milton) got ahead of the field when he was five-under through 13, but dropped a couple over the closing holes. However he stayed at three-under with a great par on 18th after his drive finished high on a bank.
“I stayed patient and just waited for the opportunities to come and then tried to take full advantage. I was solid the whole day, hit the ball good, hit it where I wanted and that’s how I made the score,” said the 15-year-old, who has just represented England in the European boys’ team championship.
Habebul Islam (Ipswich) also shared the lead during his round, but finished with a double bogey – the only shots he dropped – to go back to two-under. “It’s still a good score, a very good score, I’m very pleased with it, even with the double bogey,” said the 16-year-old.
George Young who was on great form with the putter. “I holed par putts from all over the place,” said. “My chipping was good too and I ground away quite well.” He had five birdies and gave pride of place to his two on the 17th, where the wind made the tee shot tricky but his four iron finished about 6ft from the hole.
George Leigh (Trevose) was the first player of the day to post a sub-par score with his 70, playing the back nine in one-under, thanks to his good course management – and his patience as the putts refused to drop. “That was probably the worst I could have scored,” said the 15-year-old.