Berkshire golfer David Langley led an astonishing day of low scoring with a flawless 10-under par 61 in the first round of qualifying for the English amateur championship.
Altogether 103 players beat par today at The Berkshire – and if they keep up the standard tomorrow there will be a record low cut for a place in the match play stages, which start on Thursday.
The top 64 players and ties will qualify for the knockout and the previous record included two players on level par.
But all the talk today was of Langley’s 61 on the Blue course, which included eight birdies, an eagle and just 25 putts.
The 23-year old from Castle Royle is a past BB&O (Berks, Bucks & Oxon) county champion, who has just graduated from university in the USA, where he has won on the college circuit.
He’s already shown his form this season by reaching the third round of the Amateur Championship, but this round is his career best. “I’ve shot nine-under twice before and walking up the last I thought it would be cool to hole the putt and push that record,” he said. He duly sank the 10-footer for his birdie three.
In his last event he was disappointed with his putting and has practised hard in the run-up to this championship. “I’ve worked really hard on my mid-range putting and it certainly paid off today. Most of my putts today were in the 10-20ft range, although I holed from about 35ft on the 17th. That was a bonus.”
His playing partner, Matt Wilcox of Hampshire, went round in eight-under and joked afterwards: “I’m very disappointed with that now!”
Wilcox (North Hants), is the British mid-amateur champion and prepared for this event with a four-day break at Centre Parcs with his 10-year-old daughter. “That was my warm-up, five hours in the swimming pool each day helped!” he said. It did him no harm, however, as he too shot a bogey free round with six birdies and an eagle.
Towards the end of the day, Northumberland’s Matty Lamb (Hexham) set the low score on the Red course with his eight-under 64.
His round was also bogey-free and is a personal best. “I didn’t hole many putts but tee to green was probably the best I have ever hit it,” said the 19-year-old who has just completed his first year at university in the USA.
Among the others who made their mark were 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory and Lytham Trophy winner Jack Singh Brar who were both seven under, playing the Blue and the Red respectively. Late in the day they were joined by boy international Danny Daniels (Essendon, Hertfordshire) who had a bogey free round on the Red and remarked: "I played lovely."
Gregory, who recently tied fourth in a EuroPro event, where he also shot seven-under in the first round, commented: “I really enjoyed this, I just played really well and there are a lot of positives going into tomorrow."
Singh Brar, who predicted 10-under was on the cards, started with three consecutive birdies and was five-under at the turn. “I don’t think I’ve ever been five-under at the turn, I normally do it the other way round.” He had three more birdies and one bogey on the way home, concluding: “I’ll never be disappointed with seven-under – it could have been better but it’s a great start and you don’t have to win the stroke play.
Defending champion Dan Brown (Masham), Hampshire’s Tom Robson (Rowlands Castle) and Surrey’s David Corben (Hindhead) are all six under and 12 players shot five-under, including Coby Cartwright (Cosby,Leicestershire) who was in the first group out at 7.30am.
There’s an interesting mix of full-time golfers and full time workers among the leaders. The working brigade includes Coby Cartwright, 18, who says “I probably enjoy it more than I did as a junior; Matt Wilcox and Tom Robson, who is the assistant secretary at his club and was previously at college in the USA.
“I play on my days off now and I enjoy it so much more now, it’s like a privilege,” he said.
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Caption: David Langley (image copyright Leaderboard Photography).