English Amateur: Groves, Smart fire 67 at Little Aston
27 Jul 2010
see also: English Amateur Golf Championship, Formby Golf Club


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 under 32.

“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 under.

“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- five.”

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 34.

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 bogeys.

Results For English Amateur Golf Championship
WinEnglandTommy FleetwoodEngland700
Runner-upEnglandWarren HarmstonEngland500
SemifinalsEnglandRoss DeeEngland400
SemifinalsEnglandTom LewisEngland400
QuarterfinalsEnglandJames BurnettEngland300

View full results for English Amateur Golf Championship

ABOUT THE English Amateur

The English Amateur was played in its inaugural year of 1925 at Hoylake when local golfer T Froes Ellison captured the title. He successfully defended the following year at Walton Heath, a feat achieved by only six others: Frank Pennink, Alan Thirlwell, Michael Bonallack, Harry Ashby, Mark Foster, and Paul Casey. Sir Nick Faldo is the most famous to have won the event as the six-time major champion won the 1975 tournament at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

The tournament consists of two stroke play rounds, after which the top 64 players will advance to the match play rounds, culminating in a 36-hole final between two finalists.

View Complete Tournament Information

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