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Schmidt On Course at Amateur

England’s Benjamin Schmidt, the top ranked player in the field, has comfortably advanced in his quest to win The 125th Amateur Championship. 

Taking on Brandon Dietzel of Germany, Schmidt who is ranked 35th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®), played solid golf to record a 3&2 victory across the famed Royal Birkdale links.

The 18-year-old advances to meet Callan Barrow in tomorrow’s third round after the Englishman, who finished runner-up in the English Men’s Amateur Championship, defeated Lewis Irvine of Scotland 2&1.

“I feel like the first match is pretty tough, everyone is wanting to just get through that first stage so I am very happy,” said Schmidt. “I played pretty solid; I had a couple of holes in the middle of the match where I probably went a little flat but I finished with two birdies which was very nice.

"If you are bad off the tee around here it’s going to be pretty tough. But off the tee I have been pretty good. I also hit some good shots into the greens to give myself birdie chances.”

Lindsay exit

There will be disappointment for the leading qualifier Ruben Lindsay of Scotland. The 16-year-old was knocked out of the Championship 2&1 by Ilari Saulo of Finland who also disposed of England’s Sam Bairstow 3&1 in the first round of matches in the morning. 

The Finnish Amateur Champion will now go head-to-head with Victor H. Sidal Svendsen of Denmark who won by 1 hole to progress past Ben Chamberlain of Wales. 

Thomas Plumb, a member of the 2019 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, has moved through to the last-32 thanks to a 4&3 victory over Robert Moran of Ireland. Plumb got off to a fast start and was six-up through the turn but found the going much tougher on the challenging back nine holes of Royal Birkdale. 

Plumb will now face fellow Englishman Callum Farr in the third round after he progressed by defeating Davide Buchi of Italy by one hole.

Challenging back nine

Plumb said, “I started really well and was six-up through the turn. I started to stick the brakes on a little bit and got a little bit lazy and lackadaisical but I was happy to get the job done in the end.

“The back nine is just so difficult once you get past 12. You start going back out towards the sea, it’s hard to gauge the wind and the course gets longer. It’s obviously late in the round as well so it definitely plays so much harder than the front nine.

“I won my first match; I’m playing some good golf and I’m confident with how I played in the stroke play in the bad weather on the first day and then yesterday. I just want to stay confident each day and play each match as well as I have today and I should do okay.”

Having qualified for the match play stage by a single stroke, Frenchman David Ravetto, who won the Brabazon Trophy last week, went head-to-head with the English Amateur champion Jack Cope. Opening with a birdie, Ravetto went one-up after the first before comfortably winning the match 5&4. He will now play Marc Hammer of Germany on Friday after he earned his place in the next round by winning his match 2&1 over Rasmus Karlsson of Finland.      

Great match

Raveto said, “It was a tough day yesterday because I knew it was just one round of qualifying. I didn’t play a great round of golf; I was maybe a little scared that I would mess it up. But I had plenty of confidence in my game this morning.

“I played pretty solid golf, nothing too crazy. I birdied the first hole to go one-up, I birdied six as well and managed a chip in bogey on seven and birdied ten. I shot two-under through 14 holes so a solid round of golf. Jack played a really good round of golf, he is a really good player. We had a great match, he didn’t make many putts and that was the difference between us.”

Drawing inspiration from Padraig Harrington, Ireland’s Mark Power won his match against Jannik de Bruyn of Germany thanks to a 2&1 victory. He advances to play England’s Jack Dyer in the last-32.

“At the start of the week we were all watching that video of (Padraig) Harrington hitting that five wood on 17,” admitted Power. “I was standing on the 17th tee two-up and it was a big moment, as I was considering if I should take it on or not. It’s just cool to be playing these type of golf courses that all the greats have played on. It’s a magnificent golf course, the back nine is so tough, pars are great scores out there.

Birkdale history

“I have played Jannik before and I knew how good he was and that it would be a tough game. We both probably didn’t have our best stuff today, but it was a good battle. To know that even when I’m not playing my best, I can win gives me a lot of confidence.”

  This is only the fourth time The Amateur Championship has been hosted at Royal Birkdale following the previous stagings in 1946, 1989 and 2005.

The match play stage continues tomorrow with the last-16 and last-eight ties, with the winner in Sunday’s 36-hole final gaining exemptions 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 can be found here.