Frenchman Antoine Rozner leads by one after the first stroke play qualifying round of The 121st Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig.
Rozner, who is 25th in the WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKINGSTM, recovered from an early dropped shot on the 2nd hole to post a 7-under-par score of 64 and set the course record at Royal Porthcawl. That comeback included six birdies in nine holes from the 4th, as well as a spectacular eagle three on the par five 17th to complete an excellent start to the week in Wales.
“I’m really pleased. I made one bogey on the 2nd but other than that it was a really solid round. I was never in trouble,” he said.
“I think on this golf course it’s very important to keep the ball in play and make a lot of greens. It happened today that I made a lot of putts and that’s one way to shoot a low round here.”
Rozner said fellow countryman Romain Langasque’s triumph in the 2015 Amateur Championship at Carnoustie had given him added motivation. He added: “I have been playing pretty good lately. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week and we will see how it goes. He (Langasque) showed us how to do it, so I just have to now.”
Rozner, who has been selected for the 2016 European Arnold Palmer Cup Team, leads by one shot, with Australian Cameron Davis, England’s Andrew Wilson and Scotland’s Barry Hume in a three-way tie for second place.
Davis, also playing at Royal Porthcawl, started slowly with bogeys on the 1st and 2nd holes. However, he hit back with seven birdies to secure a five-under-par finish.
“After the first couple of holes which were pretty scratchy I started hitting the ball a lot better and the conditions started to get a bit easier going into the back nine which is a bit tougher,” he said.
“I’m very happy with that start. I just needed to play a bit lower off the tees for the first couple of holes when I didn’t swing too great. I just shortened it up a little and started hitting the shots that I was trying to hit.”
At Pyle & Kenfig, Wilson and Hume both equalled the course record, with Hume having a chance at the 18th to set a new low score, with a par putt for 65. But the Haggs Castle golfer, who was recently reinstated as an amateur after playing in The Open in 2004 and 2008, missed and recorded a 66 for his opening round.
“I didn’t think my tee shot was that bad. It was a heavy lie in the rough – that’s just what happens in the rough, sometimes they sit ok and sometimes they don’t. I’m more disappointed with the chip and the putt,” said Hume.
“It should have been straight forward, but it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just another shot towards the overall total, which will be tomorrow.”
“I’ll need to play well again tomorrow but I don’t really set goals. I’m happy to shoot 66 but it doesn’t really mean anything. I’m pleased with how I approached my round.”
An eagle at the par five 11th, courtesy of a 35ft putt was the highlight of the day for R&A Foundation Scholar Wilson, who had never played the course until today. His round also included five birdies and a single dropped shot.
“I didn’t know what to expect but I really enjoyed it, I played steady, managed to hole a few putts and it was certainly a good start to the week.
“On eleven, I was going to lay up for the green in two, but I managed to be a bit confident on my swing for once and I hit a really good shot and rolled in the putt for eagle. That settled me for the round.”
Tomorrow’s second stroke play qualifying round gets underway at 7am. Following the second round the leading 64 players and ties will go forward to the match play stage of the Championship which is played at Royal Porthcawl from Wednesday until Saturday. For scoring please click here.