The three-man team from Woburn hold a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the English Champion Club competition.
Jack Bartlett, Gary Mumford and Harry Noton (image © Leaderboard Photography) are an aggregate five-over par after a blustery first round on the Gainsborough course at Stoke by Nayland Golf Club, on the Essex/Suffolk border.
Behind them, three teams are tied on eight-over: Worksop, Nottinghamshire; Henbury, Gloucestershire; and Spalding, Lincolnshire. Chelmsford in Essex are three strokes further back.
Woburn, representing Berks, Bucks & Oxon (BB&O), came in right at the end of the day to top the leaderboard.
Their challenge was led by Bartlett, a past England squad player, whose two-under 69 equalled the low score of the day. He played the front nine in three-under before returning in level par, helped by five birdies. He had one scare in his round, when he went out of bounds by four inches on the 14th, but he managed a bogey on the hole.
He was supported by Mumford, who scored level par, and Noton, who went round in 78.
Worksop, by contrast, were one of the first teams to play this morning and went out in the early drizzle. The team of Martin Foulkes – a past winner of the English mid-amateur championship – Keir Stockdale and Andy Oates finished fourth in last year’s championship and are clearly aiming to do better.
Foulkes was the team’s low scorer today, returning level par 71 while Stockdale and Oates both scored 75.
Gloucestershire county champion Nick Day also shot 69 as he led Henbury into a tie for second place. He birdied the ninth to turn in level par and then had three birdies in the next five holes. “Annoyingly I three-putted 16 for par and bogeyed the last. I kind of think I should be a couple better but I’ve got something to play with tomorrow,” he said.
He’s joined in the team by his brother, Michael, who scored 75 and Calum Mortimore who returned 77.
Spalding missed out on this championship last year but qualified for the previous four and, says county champion Simon Richardson: “We are getting progressively better.”
Richardson is just back from holiday and hasn’t played for 12 days, apart from the five holes he managed before yesterday’s downpour washed out the practice round. Nevertheless, he posted one-under 70 today, with birdies on all but one of the four par threes. He had a double bogey on 15, where he went out of bounds, but came back with birdies on 16 and 17 to finish under par.
The Spalding team is completed by Andrew Grimwood, who scored 73, and James Crampton on 78.
Despite the wind and the early drizzle a total of seven players beat par, with five scoring one-under.
Riyaz Ahmed (The Leicestershire) walked the course yesterday in the rain and was one of the early starters today in the drizzle but went out in two under-par, returning in one-over. “The back nine is the more scoreable but it didn’t work out that way for me,” he said. “I’m very pleased with that score, it’s pretty tough and windy, especially on the elevated tees.”
Jacob Hassan (Royal Blackheath, Kent) is a student at the Lee Westwood Golf School at Stoke by Nayland and made the most of his course knowledge to card 70. “I’m really pleased with that,” he said. “I used my knowledge of the course, stayed patient on the greens and my long game stood out for me.”
Ryan Smith, 17, (Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire), has been a member of an England U16 training squad. He had four birdies in his round including a pair on 14 and 15 which got him under for the round – and he holed a testing six-footer on the last to stay one-under. “It’s tough to get the wind direction but I played solid, struck it good and hit many greens,” he said.
England U16 international Charlie Daughtrey (Rotherham, Yorkshire) posted his 70 after a strong finish, holing a 25ft putt for birdie on 16 and following up with another on 17. His short game was in good shape, with up and downs for par on the first three holes and again on the 18th.
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