Woburn’s Stephen Jensen beat par again today to take a six-shot lead into tomorrow’s final round of the Logan Trophy at Beau Desert Golf Club in Staffordshire.
He birdied the last for 69, which he added to his opening 68 for a three-under total, saying: “I tried to play within myself. This is not the kind of golf course you can attack.”
His remark summed–up a common theme among the players in the English men’s open mid-amateur championship. Beau Desert is tough and the competitors are quick to describe the challenges of its thick rough, running fairways and the swales in the greens. “You always need luck in golf, but you need a bit more here!” was one comment.
Jensen (pictured top) agreed: “It’s quite stressful. I play reasonably difficult golf courses and they give you more of a chance than this one.”
Today he kept his score going with a strong short game and good putting. “I made some good up and downs when I had to, holed some clutch putts when I had to – and tried to enjoy the experience.
“I also had a bit of good luck,” he added, recounting how he made par on the 9th despite his ball clattering into the trees.
Tomorrow he enters uncharted territory. “I’ve never been in the lead in this kind of tournament so it’s new for me. My mind set is ‘whatever will be, will be.’ I don’t do this for a living, I do this for fun and that’s how I will try to treat it – and I’ll try to keep it going.”
His closest challenger is former Lancashire county player Gareth Hastie (Royal Lytham & St Annes) who round in level par 70 today for a three-over total.
He started slowly, dropping three shots in the first three holes, but concentrated on hitting greens and was rewarded with pars and three birdies in the rest of his round.
The key to his scoring has been to leave the driver in the bag. “I haven’t hit a driver once in the last two days, just a two-iron or a three-wood. You’ve got to keep it in play.”
Behind him is a group of four players on four-over, including Northumberland’s Andy Minnikin (Alnmouth), who is a friend of George Logan – the man behind the trophy.
Minnikin (pictured right) also got off to a bad start and was four over after seven, despite a birdie on the first. “I was thinking I might be going home,” he said. Instead, he gave himself repeated birdie opportunities and played the back nine in three-under, signing off with a birdie on 18 for 71.
Cumbria county player Richard Mewse (Workington) beat par with 69 for his four-over total, helped by first-class iron play. He made all his birdies from within 8ft and said: “This was the best I have struck my irons for a while. I didn’t miss many greens and had no three putts, which is pretty good round here.”
Also sharing third place is Geoff Harris (Formby, Lancashire) who played elite amateur golf in his university days and was a pro for eight years, returning to amateur ranks three years ago.
This is his first outing in the Logan, having turned 35 last year, and today he added level par 70 to yesterday’s 74. “Yesterday I frittered shots away and today I tried to learn the lessons,” he said. “I probably got a little defensive on the back nine but I’m not out of it and I keep trying to tell myself there’s a low score out there!”
Senior international Stephen East (Wike Ridge, Yorkshire) returned identical scores, remarking: “I played well in places but was also a bit scrappy.” He got his score to two-under after 11, but then had three bogeys in a row. However a strong finish with birdies on 16 and 18 helped him secure his 70: “You’ve got be patient, it’s a devil of a course.”
The round also provided the second hole-in-one of the championship. Norfolk’s Iain Yule (Thetford) played a smooth six-iron to the 163-yard 16th for his first ace in competition.
It helped him to a score of 72 and a total of eight-over comfortably making made the cut which fell on 12-over. Altogether 50 players qualified for tomorrow’s final round.
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