A personal best from 14-year-old Mikey Nicholls helped his Somerset club to the top of the leaderboard after today’s first round of the Junior Champion Club tournament.
The 18-handicapper from Worlebury had a gross score of nine-over 78 on the Green course at Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire, and earned 45 points.
He was supported by Dominic Williams, who scored 39, while their third team member, Ryan Thrupp had 28. With the best two scores counting in each round, Worlebury are the halfway leaders on 84 points.
They’re being chased by the trio from Doncaster, who all played below their handicaps and whose team score is 80.
Meanwhile 12-year-old Imogen Rafferty had the best girls’ score of the day with 40 points and led Breadsall Priory into third place on 77 points.
The Derbyshire team are two ahead of Newton Green, Suffolk and of Horsehay Village from Shropshire & Herefordshire, whose players include another 12-year-old, Euan Muttitt-Jones, who also had a personal best and scored 43 points.
The morning starters had to play through a heavy downpour but the overall scoring, with 21 competitors playing below their handicaps, contributed to a sparkling start for England Golf’s first Golf Week. The Junior Champion Club was the first event to tee off the five-day festival which celebrates team and handicap golf.
The rain had no effect on Nicholls as he compiled his best-ever round. “I don’t mind the rain. It makes the course play differently but you keep the same mindset,” he remarked.
He went out with a clear game plan and stuck to it: “Keeping a double bogey off the card was definitely my aim, then trying for bogeys and making the pars when I could,” he said. “Tomorrow, I’ll just start all over again.” Nicholls is a member of the Somerset U14 squad and is targeting a 12 handicap this season.
The Doncaster team were on excellent form with Jack Ciullo scoring 37 points, Cameron Newman 39 and Connor Longworth 41. It was a show which impressed their sizeable crowd of supporters: “The club has never been to this before and a lot of people have come to support and more are coming tomorrow,” said Longworth. “Anyone in pink – that’s us!”
They all had highlights in their rounds. Longworth almost aced the par three 17th and enjoyed a tap-in birdie. Ciullo hit the pin on the 9th and lipped out for eagle. Newman birdied the first to get his round going – and between them they had five birdies.
Breadsall Priory’s challenge was led by Imogen Rafferty, who plays off 21 and enjoyed the experience of playing in a major event, describing her day as “Really fun!” Her team-mates were Marley Najak who added 37 point to her 41; and Joseph Capewell who had 34.
Euan Muttitt-Jones was the first player to tee off in the championship and set an impressive standard. The 12-year-old, playing off 15 handicap, was round in 77 gross and scored 43 points. He said: “I don’t know what happened, I just kept hitting greens and I had a couple of birdies.”
He added: “I was playing so well I thought they must have shortened the tees! It’ll be hard to do it again but I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Muttitt-Jones, a member of his county development squad, was supported by Max Robinson, who had 32 points, and Jack Edwards who had 31.
The second and final round starts tomorrow morning at 8am.
Click here for full scores.
Image © Leaderboard Photography