Leading qualifier Jack Bigham is safely through to the second round of match play in the R&A Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports.
The England international, who raced through the stroke play qualifying on eight-under-par saw off last placed German qualifier Morris Schiefner 5&3 to book his place in the last 32.
Wrapping up the match on the 15th hole, Bigham was happy to get the job done with a minimum of fuss.
’’I controlled it well, I won the first two holes and then just carried on from there. I was four up through nine and I just sort of eased my way through and carried on making pars and got the job done on 15’’, said Bigham.
Bigham added, ‘’I was five under for the first six and made a bogey. I think I four under through 15 holes so I played nicely again which was nice.’’
Second Mann crashes out
The shock of the day saw second placed qualifier Jamie Mann crash out to Niall Shiels Donegan, who finished in 63rdplace.
The 16-year-old from the United States of America, who narrowly made into the match play stage on the cut line of 10-over par, produced an incredible fightback from being two down with three holes to play to claim victory on the 18th.
‘’I had nothing to lose. I tried to hit every fairway, go at every pin I could and thought ‘just don’t lose it because this such a great opportunity’’’, said Donegan.
Insight of Inspiration
The American admitted he was halfway to London before he was sure he was going to be competing in the last 64 phase, before receiving some words of inspiration ahead of the match play stage.
‘’We’re good friends with Craig Connelly, who is Martin Kaymer’s caddy. He has been really helpful throughout this entire journey, just giving me tips on how to play match play. He told me today to play the course, don’t play the man and it was such a great help.’’
Favourites finding their way
Top ranked player in the field Josh Hill survived a scare to see off the challenge of Sam Johnson having been two down through twelve holes to a player who came through qualifying on 9-over par, eventually winning the match by one hole.
Hill was well aware of the threat that his opponent posed today despite Johnson’s promising start in the first round of stroke play qualifying fading away yesterday.
‘’I have never met him before but you have got to be a good player to shoot one under in those conditions in round one. I knew I was going to have a tough match, just because he had a bad day yesterday it doesn’t mean it was going to be an easy match’’, said Hill.
Based at Trump International Dubai he believes his game has still to go up another level.
‘’I haven’t played anywhere near as good as I can and I guess is a positive to get into the last 32 and not feel like you have played well. A bit of work this afternoon and hopefully come out firing again tomorrow.’’
Harley Smith was also victorious on day three with a 2&1 victory over Cian O’Connor, winning the match on the 17th after being 3up after 11 holes.
Smith, who comes into the championship in good form having won the Carris Trophy and McGregor Trophy last month was happy with how quickly he adapted his game to the match play format.
’’Well, my coach said at the start of the day ‘try and get off to as a quick a start as you possibly can, try and get in control of the game’, I tried to do that from the start, hit three nice shots on the first and obviously got off to a quick start and just kind of hung on there for a little while.
“With match play you can’t get too caught up with how they are playing, you have to try and stick to your own game, so that is what I did and eventually sealed it.”
English strolling along
Elsewhere, there were commanding victories for English hopefuls Harry Malin and Ben Loveard. Malin defeated fellow Englishman Henry Daly 5&4 with the latter fighting off the challenge of Christian Johnson 4&3.
Scottish hope lives on
There were also victories for Scottish trio Alex Turlik, Calum Scott and Gregor Graham, who are all bidding to become the first Scottish winner of the Boys’ Amateur Championship since Ewen Ferguson at Royal Liverpool in 2013.Match Play Results and Draws