England’s Jordan Smith pulled off an upset in the second round of the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush today as he defeated highly rated Italian Renato Paratore.
The Bowood Golf Club member knew he was in for a hard challenge before he teed off. At number six on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Paratore was the highest ranked player in the field. Smith, ranked 63rd, had already been given a sneak preview of what he was up against but got off to a fast start and held his lead until he dispatched Paratore 3&1.
“I got off to a bit of a flier with five birdies in the first nine holes to go four up,” said Smith, a member of the Great Britain & Ireland 2013 Walker Cup team. “I just played steady from there on in. I played for fairways and greens because I didn’t have to do anything special after the front nine.
“I played with him in the qualifying rounds and he was awesome. He putted really well so I knew I was in for a really tough match.”
“I couldn’t believe the length of putts I holed over the front nine. I putted really poorly in qualifying so I was surprised at how well I putted.”
The 21-year-old made his first start in a professional tournament last month when he played in the Lyoness Open on the European Tour. He made the cut in Austria and eventually finished 32nd.
Scotland’s Bradley Neil was another who arrived in Northern Ireland in good spirits after finishing second in the St Andrews Links Trophy, where he lost a play-off to Grant Forrest over the Old Course.
Neil moved into a four-hole lead after nine holes today against Ireland’s Stuart Grehan. Yet the Blairgowrie man needed to go to the 18th green to secure the win. “That’s a match I never want to play again,” he said.
The 18-year-old gave a hole back with a double bogey six at the 10th hole, lost the 11th to a birdie and then a wayward drive off the 12th tee led to him losing the hole to Grehan’s bogey five and his lead was cut to one. Neil steadied himself to birdie the next hole and managed to par the last five holes to squeeze into the second round.
Elsewhere, England’s Paul Howard claimed another surprise victory with a two-hole win over Belgium’s Thomas Detry, the current 12th ranked player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Daniel Brown, who led the 288-man qualifying field with an 8-under-par total of 133, continued his fine form with a 2&1 victory over American Myles Lewis to advance to the third round.
Toby Tree had a slightly easier time in reaching the second round than his English international teammate, but still had to concentrate over the closing holes to see off France’s Hubert Tisserand 3&1.
Cormac Sharvin continued Northern Irish hopes by defeating Scotland’s Calum Hill. The member of Ardglass Golf Club in County Down won 2&1 to go one round better than 12 months ago when he lost to eventual champion Garrick Porteous in his opening round.
Spain’s Emilio Cuartero won’t follow in the footsteps of Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal and complete the double as Boys Amateur and Amateur Champion. The 2007 Boys Amateur Championship winner lost 4&3 to Denmark’s Victor Fasmer Henum.
Brandon Hagy carried American hopes into the second round but suffered playoff loss to Switzerland’s Mathias Eggenberger. Hagy, ranked 22nd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, finished his final year at the University of California as the sixth best player in US college golf.
The 23-year-old would still be in the draw if not for Eggenberger’s inspired play over the final three holes. The Swiss player was one down on the 18th hole but holed a 15-foot birdie putt to take the match to the 19th.
Eggenberger holed another 15-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole to force Hagy to hole out from six feet for a half. The match ended when Eggenberger hit a 6-iron to five feet at the par-5 second hole. He was conceded the eagle putt when Hagy failed to get up and down for birdie from short of the green.
“He finished birdie, birdie, eagle and that’s pretty good golf,” Hagy said.
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