India’s Rayhan John Thomas holds the lead after the first stroke play qualifying round of The 90th Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield and Renaissance Club.
The 16-year-old, who won the Scottish Boys Stroke Play Championship earlier this year, posted a six-under-par round of 65 at Renaissance Club to lead by one from Norway’s Markus Braadlie, with compatriot Kristoffer Reitan one shot further back on four-under-par after scoring 67.
England’s John Gough was the stand-out performer at Muirfield with a three-under-par round of 68, which included five birdies, the best score of the day at the famous East Lothian links. He is currently tied for fourth place with Spain’s Alejandro Del Rey.
Defending champion Marcus Svensson is tied for sixth place on two-under-par.
Thomas started his round with intent, picking up three birdies in the opening six holes, only to drop a shot with a bogey on the par-4 8th. However, the Qatar Amateur Champion enjoyed an excellent back nine, producing four birdies in a row from the 13th hole to finish the round strongly.
“I putted really well. I went on a bit of a streak on the back nine and I had four birdies in a row”, said Thomas.
“I holed a lot of good putts and it was about getting as low as I could go today. I wasn’t really thinking about the cut or winning, I was just trying to play each shot by shot. I’ve learnt to get my ball flight a bit lower since I got here so that’s helped a lot. I’m feeling good with my game.”
Braadlie, a runner-up in this year’s Norwegian Winter Open at Alcaidesa, sunk an eagle on the par-5 16th to add to his four birdies in a round of 66. A dropped shot on the 15th was the only blemish on his card during a good display at Renaissance Club.
“I played solid and hit it well off the tee. I hit good approach shots and holed some nice putts. There were some birdie opportunities out there today, but it is still a tough course. You have got to hit the fairway to score well.
“All parts of my game were solid; I didn’t really make any mistakes. I barely missed the fairway and the greens. And the putting was also pretty good. Muirfield is a tough course so I’ll try and play like today in round two.”
Braadlie’s fellow countryman Reitan was prolific with his scoring, collecting no less than eight birdies during his round at Renaissance Club. However, two bogeys on both the front and back nine meant that the 18-year-old, who won the Skandia Junior Open in 2014, had to settle for third place on the leaderboard.
“It’s a good start. It’s a qualifier obviously but always nice to get a good score in so I was happy with that”, said Reitan.
“This is my fourth time at the Boys Amateur Championship and I got to the quarter-finals two years ago. Playing on a links course isn’t really unfamiliar for me, but it’s definitely always a new challenge. Renaissance has some really hard and fast greens – so that was kind of the difficulty. But I feel like I managed it pretty well – and so did Markus – so that’s nice.”
Full details of the Boys Amateur Championship, including live scoring, can be found at championships.randa.org.