Whittaker leads senior title hunt by two

Tim Whittaker

Overnight leader Tim Whittaker held on tight today and is two shots clear heading into tomorrow’s final round of the English senior men’s open amateur championship at Worplesdon, Surrey.

The Beaconsfield player is two-over par after 36 holes, returning scores of one-under 68 yesterday at West Hill and three-over 74 today at Worplesdon – and he’s enjoying being in contention.

“It’s what we play for!” said Whittaker (image © Leaderboard Photography), who is new to senior ranks and relishing the opportunity to compete. He played as a youngster in Hampshire but his career in the oil industry and family commitments limited his golf – until now.

He made a slow start to today’s round and was four-over after seven, but played the back nine in one-under. “One thing I’ve learned about senior golf is that you will make mistakes; you hope you won’t and when you were young you might not have done!

“My mistakes were frustrating, but I hit the ball very well and if I do that tomorrow I will be happy,” he remarked.

He’s being chased by the local man, Ian Attoe, who scored level par yesterday at Worplesdon – his home course – and added four-over 73 at West Hill.

Another two shots back on six-over are the defending champion Stephen East (Moortown), Windermere’s Andrew Atkinson, and senior international Andrew Stracey (Denham)

The birdies totally eluded East today at West Hill. However Atkinson, who played the same course, managed two, including a spectacular one on the 17th where he holed a putt of about 60 yards.

Stracey, meanwhile, had contrasting fortunes on a pair of par fives at Worplesdon: a double-bogey seven on the fifth and an eagle three on the 17th which contributed to a score of one-over 72.

Two shots further back is a group of five players, including past champion Chris Reynolds (Littlestone) who played his way into the mix with a level par 71 at Worplesdon. “I’m still challenging at my mature years!” joked the 2009 winner, who has also been runner-up at least three times.

Lincolnshire’s Steve Cullington (Stoke Rochford) had the low round of the day with a one-under par 70 at Worplesdon, in contrast to his opening 83 at West Hill. “I played so badly yesterday, I thought I probably hadn’t qualified so I decided to relax and enjoy it – and that’s what I did. It’s a lovely course and I holed a nice lot of putts.”

He played the back nine in three-under and came in to face a long wait before discovering he had qualified. “This is the fourth time I’ve played in this and I’ve never made the cut, it would be nice to play on Friday for a change,” he said.

The huge field of 288 players again played in warm sunshine and has now been cut to the leading 80 players and ties for tomorrow’s final round at Worplesdon. A total of 82 players qualified.

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