Fresh from his exploits at The Open, Matthew Fitzpatrick overcame some awkward moments to books his place in round two of the English Amateur Championship at Frilford Heath but knows he must up his game if further progression is assured.
The Sheffield teenager (image copyright Leaderboard Photography), who finished as leading amateur at Muirfield, edged through 2 and 1 over Ben Wall from Hayling then declared: “I played very average. But I putted well and was probably one or two under when it finished.
“I was behind for a long time but I won the 12th to level and the 13th to go ahead for the first time and I also won the 15th to stay in front.”
On a day littered with showers, Jonathan Thomson and Daniel Brown traded blows for 16 holes in an all-Yorkshire tussle before Thomson came out on top 3 and 2. “It’s dreadful playing a team-mate,” said Thomson. “Dan and I are good friends and it’s tough to play such a match. But you’ve just got to knuckle down and get the job done.”
Thomson was 1 up at the turn, Brown levelled with a birdie at 11 but Thomson edged in front again with a birdie at 12, took the 14th with a par and 15 with another birdie. The end came with a half in bogeys at 16.
The only problem tomorrow for Thomson is that he plays another Yorkshire team-mate in Nick Marsh who came from 2 down to beat Seb Crookall-Nixon by on hole. “I missed two green on the front nine, failed to get up-and-down and found myself 2 down,” said Marsh. “But I managed to birdie the tenth and 18th, the last from 20 feet, while Seb missed his 15 foot birdie on 18.”
Crookall-Nixon, back from college in San Francisco, said: “It was a good game but I made a couple of mistakes and got paid for it. I fancied my chances this week but you’ve got to learn and move on.”
Nathan Kimsey, a semi-finalist last year at Silloth-on-Solway, came through 3 and 1 against Devon’s Jimmy Mullen in an even contest for 14 holes. But Kimsey took the next three par-concession-birdie to move on. “It was nip-and-tuck most of the way,” said Kimsey but Mullen was punished for poor tee shots at 15 and 16, while Kimsey holed a ‘monster’ from 50 feet on 17.
With two significant stroke play victories under his belt in the last month, Ryan Evans was never behind against Tom Berry but had to go to the 19th to shake off the Wentworth man. “I started well but got a bit complacent in the middle,” said Evans.
“I didn’t want to lose holes but I did. Tom is a fine player and he birdied 13 and 14, but I was still 1 up playing the last but missed from three feet on the final green.” However, Evans birdied the 19th to go through.
“I always think the first match is the toughest,” added Evans. “You always like to get a win under your belt but I’m still there. To win this championship would cap my season.”
Brabazon Trophy winner Jordan Smith, beaten in the semi-finals last year, eased through 4 and 2 over Chris Chilton and now meets Ben Wheeler, who enjoyed a 6 and 5 win over Ben Horton, while in an all-international clash, Jamie Rutherford got the better of Craig Hinton 6 and 5.
Rutherford, from Hertfordshire, was 3 up after four holes and 4 up at the turn despite a bogey at the eighth. “It’s important to get a quick start, which I did,” said Rutherford. “I didn’t drop any more shots after the eighth and managed to keep the pressure on. But if you chase too hard around here there are holes which can bite you.”
Rutherford now faces Yorkshire youngster Joe Dean, a 3 and 1 winner over Danny Keddie.
One of the shots of the day was performed by Nick Watson on the 19th hole to overcome Billy McKenzie. Watson was stymied behind a tree with his drive but cut his second shot around the obstruction to find the green and managed to secure a winning par while McKenzie saw his approach clip overhanging branches while his putt for a half lipped out.