Scotland’s Ruben Lindsay claimed the top spot in stroke play qualifying at The 125th Amateur Championship in England.
Over the famed links of Royal Birkdale which has hosted The Open on ten occasions, 16-year-old Lindsay finished top of the 64 players and ties who progressed to the match play stage, after one round of stroke play qualifying with yesterday’s round abandoned due to inclement weather.
Recording a four-under-par 67, Lindsay was delighted with his round which was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 15th hole and included birdies at the 1st, 6th, 9th, and 17th holes. A closing bogey on 18, just his second of the day, did little to dampen the Scottish Boys’ Amateur champion’s spirits as he looks forward to the match play stage of the Championship.
Love of match play
Lindsay said, “I am very pleased, I played some really good stuff out there, I just didn’t really make any mistakes until the last. I am really pleased with that round. I didn’t really expect anything coming into today, I thought I had been playing some nice stuff so I just wanted to see how low I could go.
“I love match play; match play is my favourite. I won the Scottish Boys’ Amateur Championship last year which was all match play. It’s great to be representing Scotland, this is the biggest Championship, to put the flag up there, to put my name up there, it’s a great honour.”
England’s Mason Essam relished his opportunity to play the links which has been graced by some of the game’s best. The 21-year-old recorded a three-under-par 68 which featured an eagle at the par-5 17th which was reminiscent of two-time Champion Golfer of the Year, Padraig Harrington’s memorable approach shot into the 71st hole of The 137th Open.
Terrific golf coast
“This is my first home Amateur Championship, I’m off to a really nice start and I enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “I like coming up this way, this coastline of golf courses is terrific. Given the amount of famous golfers to have played here, to be able to shoot a number like that it pretty special.”
On the eagle at the 17th, he added, “I said to the boys ‘Padraig who?’ when that one went in. I hit a 4 iron, from 246 yards, the wind was a little bit behind me. It’s like every opportunity, you had to take each step at a time. There is going to be a lot of great players going through to the match play and I have to take each match as it comes.”
Fellow Englishman, Sam Broadhurst, recovered from a triple bogey on the par-4 3rd hole with a birdie at the 4th hole followed by an eagle at the par-5 6th hole. Dropped shots at the 9th and 10th holes did little to stop the 23-year-old who steadied with a birdie at the 11th before adding a further three to his card in the final four holes of the round. He claimed joint third place on the leaderboard on two-under-par 68 alongside Benjamin Schmidt.
“The only aim of the stroke play stage of the Championship is to qualify for the match play, so I am pleased to have done that and move on,” he said. “At the sixth, it was probably the shot of the day, I hit driver down the middle of the fairway and had 200 yards into the green. The wind was off the right, so I hit a 4 iron up there, it finished six inches from the hole for a nice tap in for eagle which is always what you want. It got me back into the round.”
The top-ranked player in the field, Schmidt opened his round with a birdie at the first before making the turn at two-under-par. The 18-year-old overcame bogeys at the 11th and 14th holes with birdies at holes 15 and 17 to safely progress to the match play stage of the Championship.
Schmidt said: “I played pretty solid, four birdies and two bogeys, I didn’t really do too much wrong.
“It was good to get a good round in today. The weather yesterday meant the round was called off after I had played seven holes, but I am looking forward to the match play tomorrow. It is a bit of a weird one match play, I enjoy the format, I can hit driver on pretty much every hole and don’t have to worry about a score, I am looking forward to it.”
England’s Jack Dyer rounded out the top-five qualifiers after recording a one-under-par 70 whilst his compatriot Barclay Brown finished at level-par alongside Frederik Kjettrup of Denmark and Filippo Celli of Italy.
The cut mark fell at five-over-par, with 68 players qualifying. By virtue of a card countback Nicola Gerhardsen of Switzerland and Rowan Lester of Ireland progressed to round two of the match play.
It is only the fourth time The Amateur Championship has been hosted at Royal Birkdale following the previous stagings in 1946, 1989 and 2005.
With the match play stage starting from tomorrow through to Sunday’s 36-hole final, there is much at stake as the winner gains an exemption into The 149th Open at Royal St George’s next July and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament and an exemption to the US Open.
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Match play draw available here