CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Top-seed Craig Howie of Scotland was off facing Italy's Michele Cea early Wednesday morning in the first round of the 120th British Amateur. Cea birdied the first hole to take an early one-up lead but fell to as much as two-down to Howie by the 10th hole.
“It was a tough match against the winner of the qualifying. I had lots of fun out there," Cea told the R&A. "I started pretty well. I was two-up after two holes and then I started making some birdies."
But Cea made three birdies in the next eight holes to eventually close out the co-medalist from Peebles Golf Club by a 2-and-1 margin.
Howie shared medalist honors with Ryan Chisnall of New Zealand, but earned the top seed by virtue of his better back nine on Tuesday.
Chisnall's opening-round match with Argentina's Alejandro Tosti went the longest of any match on Wednesday. Tosti birdied the par-4 4th hole, the match's 22nd hole of the day, to win in sudden death over Chisnall, who was one-up through 14 holes before making back-to-back bogeys art 15 and 16 at Carnoustie Golf Links.
The top-ranked amateur in the field, Ashley Chesters of England, took advantage of Aussie Taylor MacDonald's early bogeys to head to the back nine three-up despite making no birdies. Both players began to improve on the inward nine, but Chesters used two birdies to finish off MacDonald 3-and-2.
Chesters, ranked No. 7 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings, will face fellow Englishman Jake Yule on Thursday morning.
The highest seed remaining is Iceland's Gudmundur Kristjansson, whose 2-and-1 victory over Christoffer Bring pushed him to the second round where he'll square off with Mateusz Gradecki of Poland.
After Wednesday's 32 matches, players from 16 different countries are alive heading to Thursday's second and third rounds. Scotland, England, and France all have five representatives while Germany and a surprise Iceland have three.
One American remains after five reached match play. John Oda of Hawaii, who just finished his freshman year at UNLV, handed a one-hole, sudden-death defeat to Jaime Lopez of Argentina. Oda was three-down through six before birdieing three of his last 11 holes and winning the match with a par on hole 1.
The first match off the No. 1 tee at Carnoustie on Thursday morning will feature Cea and his round-two competitor Andri Bjornsson of Iceland.
Full results and an updated match play bracket can be found at the link below.