Ian Attoe heads into the final day of the English Senior Men’s Amateur Championship tied for the lead with Andrew Smith and still harbouring hopes of a third title on the spin.
On a blisteringly hot day at Woodhall Spa Golf Club in Lincolnshire, fast-running and bouncy conditions on the Bracken Course made scoring extremely tough for the competitors.
Attoe – winner in 2018 and 2019 – shot a three over par round of 75 in the morning on the Bracken Course and saw his name climb steadily up the leaderboard as the day progressed and the mercury climbed to 33 degrees centigrade.
The Worplesdon Golf Club member was joined on a two-round total of level par by Royal Ashdown Forest’s Smith.
Smith started the round on four-under par after shooting 69 on day one on the Hotchkin Course. On day two he carded a round of 76 and climbed up a place in the rankings.
A measure of the conditions was shown by the fact only one player in the field broke par.
That honour fell to Torquay Golf Club’s Peter Bicknell who made three birdies in a one under par round of 71. The only blot on the scorecard was a double bogey on the par five, 14th hole.
Attoe – who also won this event in 2015 – admitted this was a day where pars were golden and it was all about minimising damage rather than pushing for birdies.
“The pins were tucked away and could have been for the Men’s Amateur last week and not the seniors this week,” confirmed the 61-year-old.
“It was difficult to get an approach close and you were relying on some long first putts.
“I think I said there might be some good scores in the tournament, but not on that course. Scores will be made on the Hotchkin.
“It’s playable, but you need the first putt close and then tap it in for par
“My putting was hit and miss yesterday and was worse today. The long game’s still good and I’ll be glad to get on the Hotchkin.
“I’ve still got one hand on the trophy!”
Local knowledge proved useful for the Woodhall Spa duo of Paul Wharton and Les Toyne.
While others grew frustrated with quirky bounces and tricky, sloping greens Toyne and Wharton knew that scores in the mid-70s were not to be sniffed at and the equivalent of breaking even on a treacherous day for scoring.
Both men shot 75 to finish the day on totals of one over par – just a shot adrift of the leaders and with all to play for in the final round back on the Hotchkin Course.
Joining them on +1 is England international Rupert Kellock from Sunningdale (pictured above). A round of 76 has kept the former Welsh Open winner in the hunt for his own national title.
First round leader Gareth Bradley couldn’t recapture his form from day one and fell down the order with a round of 80
However, the Cheshire county captain starts the final day only three shots back and with good memories of six birdies from his opening round on the Hotchkin.
It was also an interesting day on the Bracken for Tim Cooper from Bolton Lostock Golf Club. His approach to the 17th got stuck up a tree and son Ed had to come to the rescue. Fortunately for Cooper senior, the double bogey seven didn’t stop him making the cut.
There are nine players within four shots of the leaders with 60 golfers making it through to the last day after the 36-hole cut fell at 13-over par.
Details of the second round along with Saturday’s tee times can be found on the English Senior Men’s Amateur Championship homepage.