Meronk leads the qualifiers for the match play stage of The Amateur Championship

Craig Hinton

Young Polish player Adrian Meronk and home favourite Craig Hinton led the qualifiers for the match play stage of the 118th Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s today.

The 20-year-old Pole, who is in his first year at East Tennessee State University, notched up six birdies and two bogeys on his way to a 4-under-par 68 at Prince’s for a 3-under-par total of 140. He said, “I played a lot of irons off the tee today to stay on the fairways. My aim was to qualify and get into the match play stage and I’m really pleased to get this far. It means a lot to progress in this Championship and to win this week would be a massive achievement.”

Meronk was matched by Hinton who holed a 60 foot putt at the last for a closing birdie and a 4-under-par 67 at Royal Cinque Ports. “I played solid today. I was better yesterday tee to green but holed more putts today which made a difference,” said the 24-year-old from Oxfordshire. “I have great memories of this course; I scored 7-under-par to qualify for the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s. It seems to suit me though in match play, anyone can win. There is a long way to go in this Championship.”

Scots Graeme Robertson and Scott Gibson were one shot further back on 2-under-par totals of 141. Gibson, from Southerness, combined an eagle at the 15th at Prince’s with three birdies and a bogey to card a 4-under-par 68. “I’m delighted, it is one of the biggest events for amateurs worldwide. It’s great to have a score like that and to be sitting where I am.” His 24-year-old compatriot from Glenbervie followed him in with a 2-under-par 70.

The qualification mark after the stroke play stages was a 4-over-par total of 147. Seventy-two players from 20 countries progressed to the match play stage. The winner earns a place in The Open Championship at Muirfield, a place in the US Open and traditionally an invitation to the Masters.

The benign conditions lent themselves to good scoring and the course record at Prince’s was matched and then broken in little over an hour. Daniel Brown, from Bedale, shot a 66 to match the course record before 20-year-old Irishman Paul Dunne compiled an eagle and five birdies for an excellent 65.

“I have been playing quite well recently,” said the Greystones player. “Yesterday I just struggled in the wind so I knew if I got a decent day I could shoot a number. I didn’t think I would shoot a 65 but I thought if I came out and stayed patient I would pick up a few birdies along the way and hopefully get in for the match play. So it’s job done for the day I suppose.”

Among the other notable qualifiers was local favourite Max Orrin, on level par, the same mark as Neil Raymond, the recent St Andrews Links Trophy winner, while Julien Brun, the fifth ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) qualified on 4-over-par.

Overnight leader Mads Soegaard posted a 1-over-par 72 at Royal Cinque Ports to finish on 1-under-par. His co-leader Charlie Bull finished on 1-over-par after a 74 at the same venue but Irishman Richard O’Donovan slipped to an 80 which left him on 7-over-par and outside the cut line.

Brady Watt, ranked third on WAGR, failed to qualify after finishing on a 17-over-par total of 160 while Welsh Walker Cup star Rhys Pugh missed out on qualification by a shot after double bogeying the 18th hole at Prince’s to finish on 5-over-par.

The final results along with tomorrow’s draw can be found at championships.randa.org and television highlights will be broadcast from Thursday, 20 June to Sunday, 23 June 2013 on Sky Sports.

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