Tight quarter finals go the distance

Todd Clements

The semi-finals of the English amateur championship at The Berkshire will see Nick Poppleton play Todd Clements while Tom Sloman takes on Jack Gaunt.

They came through a series of exciting quarter final matches with only Poppleton (Wath, Yorkshire) winning before the 18th.
He defeated Lancashire’s Jack Clarkson (Lancaster) 3/2, taking charge on the back nine with three birdies. The pair were nip and tuck on the outward half with Poppleton’s birdie on the first immediately answered by Clarkson’s chip-in on the second.
Clarkson twice edged ahead with birdies on three and eight but was pulled back each time, notably on the ninth which Poppleton eagled. After the turn, Poppleton pulled steadily ahead, getting to three up with a birdie on 15 and closing out the game on the next hole.
The other three games were intensely tight – and none more so than the match between Todd Clements (Braintree, Essex) and Jake Bolton (Ogbourne Downs, Dorset) saw only three holes change hands.
Bolton birdied the fifth to go  one up but lost the sixth to a par. Clements went one up with a birdie at the 9th and stayed there – with the players halving every hole on the way in and covering the back nine in two under par. Clements is pictured being congratulated by his sister (image copyright Leaderboard Photography).
In the third game Tom Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge, Somerset) ended the challenge of England international Scott Gregory (Corhampton, Hampshire) with a birdie on the last after a ding-dong end to their game.
They reached the turn all square and Sloman moved ahead for the first time with a birdie three on the 11th. He was never to drop behind, although Gregory got him back to all square with a birdie on the long 15, hitting the green in two while Sloman visited the heather.
Gregory’s tee shot to the par three 16th was straight at the pin, but ran through the green, while Sloman found the putting surface on the way to a winning par. However, he immediately lost his lead on the 17th which he conceded after hitting his tee shot into heather and then into further trouble.
On the 18th, though, Sloman made no mistakes, rolling in a 20ft birdie putt which Gregory was unable to match.
In the last match, Jack Gaunt (Drayton Park, Staffordshire) found a similar solution, with his own birdie on 18 to defeat Alex Fitzpatrick (Hallamshire, Yorkshire).
After exchanging a couple of early holes with birdies, the players steadily halved their way to the 11th, where Gaunt pulled ahead with a par. But Fitzpatrick’s par on 14 made them all square again and his birdie on 16 meant the 18-year-old was one up with two to play.
But Gaunt produced a blistering finish with birdies on both 17 and 18 to take his place in his second consecutive semi-final.