Sweden’s Marcus Svensson produced a brilliant comeback against Julien Paltrinieri to keep his title defence on track on the first day of match play at The 90th Boys Amateur Championship at Muirfield.
The defending champion found himself three behind after the 12th, but won four of the next five holes to be 1-up coming down the last.
The Italian struck back on the 18th, however, when he sunk a huge putt to win the hole and take the match to sudden death, much to the delight of the supporting contingent following the exciting duel.
Nevertheless, Svensson held his nerve to win the match on the 20th hole by coolly securing a par from a few feet after Paltrinieri had left his putt short.
“I played really bad in the first few holes. If I lose the match, then I go home to Sweden, and that’s what I thought”, said Svensson.
“But I got it going on the 12th with a thirteen foot putt, then won thirteen and fourteen and I was back in the game. I made a really important putt on the 16th, then an eagle on seventeen.
“Obviously he made a long putt on eighteen, so you just have to reset your mind, it’s all square again, and you can’t think about what happened before, you just keep the focus on playing.
“I felt really good on the last nine, I played great. I’m going to have a bit of practice after this round and I’ll be fine tomorrow.”
Svensson’s compatriots Albin Bergstrom and Pontus Nyholm also needed extra holes win their matches, beating England’s Benjamin Jones and Callum Blinkhorn respectively.
Earlier in the round, Kristoffer Reitan, the leading qualifier after the stroke play stage, came back from four down against Conor White to win by one hole in a closely contested encounter against the Englishman.
The Norwegian found himself in trouble early in the match when White won four out of the first six holes, but recovered strongly on the back nine to win on the 18th.
“Conor was playing really well and after the sixth hole I was really mad at myself for giving away that hole and be four down after six”, said Reitan.
“He played really well on the front nine, while I made some mistakes. After that, I was just really focussed on hitting fairways, on hitting greens and I ended up winning which was nice. I played really well on the back nine.
“I’m really pleased to have got through this match. I just have to start over again, focus on the next match and try and do my best.”
There were comprehensive 5&4 wins for David Nyjfall, Perre Papunen and Miguel Bisellach, while a number matches were decided on the final hole, with narrow victories for Ruben Petterson, Alejandro Aguilera, Adrien Pendaries and Ignacio Montero Gimano.
Hopes of a winner from Great Britain and Ireland were boosted when eight Englishmen, including Charlie Thornton, who beat yesterday’s tied for second place qualifier Harry Goddard by one hole, Daniel O’Loughlin, Barclay Brown, Danny Daniels, Arrun Singh Brar, John Gough, Luke Palmowski, and Charlie Strickland all booked their places in the last 32, while Irishman Thomas Mulligan captured a fine 4&3 win over the much fancied Rayhan John Thomas.Play gets underway at 7:30 am tomorrow and admission and parking is free for spectators. To see a full list of match play results and tee times for the last 16 and quarter-final matches please click here.