Sutton Coldfield, England (July 26, 2010) -- Low scores
are not necessarily the criteria on the opening day of
the English Amateur Championship. Just qualifying in
the leading 64 players is the objective but it didn’t
stop Elliot Groves and Henry Smart from shooting five-
under-par 67s at Little Aston.
They lead by one from Suffolk’s Hugo Dobson while the
best returns at nearby Sutton Coldfield were 68s by
Ryan Newman, Jonathan Hurst and international
Tommy Fleetwood, fresh from his runner-up spot on
the European Challenge Tour (picture © Tom Ward).
Groves, 20, from Hampshire, had eight birdies on his
card along with three bogeys, having gone out in three
“I played well and drove the ball well but I missed
three putts inside a yard so it could have been a lot
better,” said the man from Chandlers Ford, who is at
college in the United States.
Smart, another US college student, missed the cut in
the English Amateur last year but he is on course for
the match play stage this time after also finishing five
“It’s my first time at Little Aston but I played solidly
and had five birdies plus an eagle at the 12th,” he
said. “I missed qualifying by a shot last year but I
finished fifth in last week’s South of England Stroke
Play so I’m in good form.”
Dobson, winner of the inaugural South East of England
Links Championship in May, reached the turn in level
par 35. But a 50-foot putt on the tenth set fire to his
round and sparked a run of six successive birdies.
After pars at the next two holes, he stood on the 18th
tee at six under. “I’ve not shot five under before,” he
said - and he still hasn’t. An errant drive followed by a
wedge into a bunker and a flier over the green added
up to a double-bogey six and 68.
“I’ve finished four under 18 times and felt I was on
course for my low round. But I hit my drive right and
didn’t really commit to the wedge,” Dobson added,
“then I missed a ten-foot putt.”
Adam Hedges, another US college student, also found
an eagle at the 12th on his way to a 69 and even
survived a potential disaster at the testing 17th.
“I hit my drive into the trees, could only chip out, then
fired my pitch over the green into water,” he said. “But
after a drop I got lucky and chipped-in for a bogey-
After a level-par front nine, the eagle at 12 followed by
birdies at the 14th and 15th kick-started his round and
the 10 year old from Bromley in Kent came home in
Among those on 70 is England international Eddie
Pepperell despite a double-bogey six at the 18th.
“I pulled my drive into the bushes at the last, took a
drop and was lucky to chip it out,” said the man who
reached the quarter finals last year. Then I hit an
eight-iron to four feet and missed. Apart from that I
played really well and should have been six or seven
under. But this is all about qualifying.”
At Sutton Coldfield, Newman had seven birdies, four in
a front nine of 33, while Hurst matched that with five
birdies and just one dropped shot.
Fleetwood, who missed forcing a playoff yesterday at
Stoke by Nayland, had a real mixed bag in his 68. He
went out in 33 with eagles at the fifth and seventh and
came home in level par 35 with two birdies and two