The Amateur Day Four
Eight players from seven nations are through to the quarter-finals of the 2010 Amateur Championship. All four home nations are represented, along with Italy, France and Korea.
First through to the last eight was England’s Matthew Nixon, defeating Tommy Fleetwood with a birdie-three at the 18th to win by one hole. The 21-year-old former Boys Amateur Champion, who earlier in the day had eased past Denmark’s Peter Baunsoe 3&2, faced an altogether tougher task against the world number nine.
“It was a bit of a struggle out there,” explained Nixon, “nip and tuck all the way. I hit a lot of greens today and I played quite well.”
Magnanimous in defeat, Fleetwood said: “I’ve played the Amateur twice before this, and I’ve lost to the winner both times. He’s one of my best mates, so I hope he goes all the way.”
Nixon will play Rhys Enoch in the fourth round. This morning, the Welshman was a three-foot putt away from making his Amateur Championship exit against Jordan Findlay of Scotland. Findlay would miss and hand the East Tennessee State student another chance, one he would grasp at the 19th hole. In the afternoon, Enoch would make no mistake, overcoming Bolivia’s Sebastian MacLean 2&1.
“I definitely feared the worst this morning. I was really struggling, but somehow I got through it and found something this afternoon,” he said. “My short game and putting is very sharp right now and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Scottish hopes are very much alive in the form of James Byrne, who negotiated his way through to the last eight after victories over Germany’s Stephan Jaeger and Englishman Alex Christie. The Arizona State University junior, 21, is hoping to become the first winner on home soil since Stuart Wilson at St Andrews in 2004.
“I had high hopes of doing well this week. I’m playing steady golf – I was about two under par today. I had a good summer last year and I feel like I’ve got the game to do well again,” said Byrne, a quarter-finalist last year at Formby.
Completing the quartet of home internationals is Northern Ireland’s Paul Cutler who made his way to the last eight courtesy of a one-hole victory over Scotland's Michael Stewart and a 3&2 triumph against Yuki Usami of Japan.
Despite having had little links experience Jin Jeong has arguably been the most impressive international player this week. Today he defeated the 2010 Scottish Open Stroke Play Champion, France’s Romain Wattel, 4&3 this morning, and 2009 Boys Amateur Champion Tom Lewis by one hole in the afternoon.
The Korean, who currently occupies 10th place in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, said: “It was a really tight match and we both played really well, but I was quite nervous at the end. I’ve been playing well all week, so I just need to do the same tomorrow.”
Completing the quarter-finalists are France’s Edouard Espana, Chris Paisley of England – the only Walker Cup player to make it to this stage of the competition – and Italian Andrea Pavan, the latter defeating England’s Darren Wright by one hole in the final match of the day.
“It feels good to get through,” said the Italian. “The drive on 18 this afternoon was a really great shot. 18 is a pretty tough hole, so just hitting it down the middle, then hitting the green when you need to it is a good feeling. Perhaps tomorrow will be better still.”
The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played tomorrow at Muirfield, with the morning round getting underway at 8.15am and the afternoon’s play commencing at 1.00pm.
The 36-hole final will be played on Saturday. The winner will receive exemption into the 150th Anniversary Open Championship and a Masters Tournament invitation.
The draw is available to view on RandA.org. Live match scores will be updated online throughout the day.