DEAL, England (June 17, 2013) -- Winds gusting up to 30mph greeted the competitors in the first round of the 118th Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s today.
Only four players in the 288-strong field broke par with Charlie Bull, from Lake Nona, Richard O’Donovan, from Lucan, and Dane Mads Soegaard, sharing the lead after two under par rounds of 70 at Prince’s. Norwegian Kristoffer Ventura carded a one under par round of 70 at Royal Cinque Ports.
A clutch of players were on level par including Neil Raymond, who won the St Andrews Links Trophy earlier this month, Nathan Kimsey, who finished in a tie for second at the same event, Cormac Sharvin, who won the Irish Close Amateur Championship last week, and Scotsmen Grant Forrest and Graeme Robertson.
Early rain eased but the wind speed remained high throughout the day with gusting cross-winds making conditions difficult for the field.
Kimsey, the 20-year-old from Woodhall Spa, teed off in the first group of the day at Prince’s and posted a level par 72. The England Squad player and Walker Cup hopeful said, “I’m pretty pleased with my round today. There were a couple of dropped shots with a few bad swings and a few missed putts but that’s going to happen around these courses with this wind to contend with.”
Kimsey’s compatriot, Charlie Bull, from Lake Nona, did not let the conditions affect him as he produced some excellent golf to notch up birdies on the 13th and 18th holes at Prince’s on his way to a two under par 70. “With the wind blowing like this it was always going to be tough to keep it out of the rough,” said the 21-year-old. “I kept it out of the rough nicely and that gave me some nice steady shots to the green. I didn’t get greedy. I tried to make par on every hole and play to the flat areas of the greens. I did that pretty well and made a couple of putts on top of that.
“I can’t say links golf has exactly been my thing the last few years but it’s a great start. It’s nice to start out that steady especially in the first round. You can’t win the tournament but you can certainly shoot yourself out of it.”
Soegaard, the 20-year-old who finished seventh in the Danish International Amateur Championship in May, reached the two under par mark with an eventful round of six birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey six at the last. He said, “Overall I am pretty pleased. The course was playing tough, you couldn’t really attack it. I plodded along and stayed in position as good as I could. You have to take what the course gives you and you are going to have some bounces you don’t really expect. I just tried to make it easy on myself and not be in hopeless places.”
O’Donovan swapped three birdies and one bogey in the late afternoon to tie the lead. The 23 year-old who had a top-five finish at the Irish Amateur in May, said he was looking to make it third time lucky in The Amateur Championship. “It’s a different course tomorrow,” he said. “I will go out and have a gameplan on how I want to play the golf course. The main thing is to make the cut but it would be great to be the leading qualifier. Last year I was tied third but I was knocked out in the first round of match play so it would be good to go all the way this year.”
Elsewhere, some of the higher ranked players enjoyed mixed fortunes. Australian Brady Watt, ranked third in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, posted a ten over par round of 82 at Prince’s and Frenchman Julien Brun, ranked fifth, is five over par after a 76 at Royal Cinque Ports but local favourite Max Orrin, from North Foreland, is well placed after a two over par 73 at the same course.
The second stroke play stage of The Amateur Championship is played tomorrow before the field is cut to 64 and ties. The match play stage is played over the final four days at Royal Cinque Ports.