Bogey free rounds at the Boys' Amateur
Frenchman Tom Gueant has set the early pace at the R&A Boys' Amateur Championship firing into the first-round lead with an 8-under par 63.
Playing the West Course at Saunton, Gueant recorded a bogey free round to sit one shot clear of German Maximilian Wojciechowski who also kept the bogeys at bay on his way to shooting seven-under par 64 on the same layout.
A further two shots back are Connor McKinney of Scotland and Javier Neira Garcia of Spain who each posted five-under par 66 on the East Course.
Rounding out the top-five on four-under par 67 is Australia’s Josh Greer, another player who was bogey free on the West Course in the first round.
A dream debut
Competing in the R&A Boys' Amateur Championship for the first time, the 17-year-old Frenchman is delighted with his performance in the first qualifying round.
“I take every tournament as it comes but this one is kind of special. I was unfortunate not to play this tournament before. So, this is the first time I am playing it, I am really enjoying it,” said Gueant.
“The conditions were really good, so I am happy, it was a good day for me.”
Careful preparations pay dividends
Having arrived in Saunton over the weekend, Gueant formulated a strong game plan which he executed today providing himself with plenty of birdie opportunities and converting eight of them in all, including four consecutively from the 8th.
“I followed my game plan, hitting into the middle of the greens and making some putts, sometimes they went well, and they were birdies and sometimes they were just for par,” added Gueant.
“On the 17th I almost made an eagle; I had a long putt and it finished just 2ft short, so I tapped in for birdie.”
Gueant loving links golf
Now based in the United States and attending the University of Oregon, Gueant is relishing playing the Saunton courses.
“I don’t play links golf that often, I am based in the US, so I play long courses with trees, but I used to play links when I was younger,” added Gueant.
“I like them, but they aren’t easy, especially when the wind is tough. It’s links golf so you need to be careful to avoid big mistakes, so I was hitting three quarter shots into the middle of the green.”
Following in Sergio Garcia’s footsteps
Jose Luis Ballester Barrio, runner-up in the 2018 R&A Boys' Amateur Championship is back again this year looking to finish one place better.
The Spaniard is hoping to follow in the footsteps of countryman Sergio Garcia who won the title in 1997, the last time it was played at Saunton.
“It is very special for me to be here where Sergio won this championship. I play at his home course and I have played with him four times, so we are like friends,” said Barrio.
Barrio opened the championship with a round of three-under par 68 and is tied sixth alongside fellow Spaniards Rodrigo Martin and Josep Maria Serra Busquet as well as Cameron Adam (SCO), Matteo Cristoni (ITA), Adam Wallin (SWE), Habebul Islam (ENG), Jakob Stavang Stubhaug (NOR)and Krystof Strycek (CZE).