(Kent State Athletics Photo)
SANDWICH, England (June 19, 2017) - Iceland and golfer. Two words that aren't typically associated with each other.
But in warm and sunny conditions, Icelander Gisli Sveinbergsson kept his cool to fire a stunning 64 at Prince’s and soar to the top of the leaderboard. In the process, he beat the previous record of 65 held by Paul Dunne - a feat the Irishman achieved the last time The Amateur was played in Kent in 2013.
Sveinbergsson, a 19-year-old student at Kent State University in Ohio, USA, put himself at six-under-par after scoring six birdies by the half way point. Holding his nerve, the 2014 Duke of York Trophy winner added two more birdies over the back nine at the 12th and 13th.
“I played well today. I felt comfortable but I’m looking ahead to tomorrow, trying to keep calm and staying focused,” said Sveinbergsson. “I was hitting some good shots and got off to a good start with two birdies, so that kept me going in cruise control. You don’t really feel it when you are playing well, you just keep going.
“Royal St George’s is a challenge – it’s not an easy course. So I am going to have to keep calm there. Anything could happen tomorrow. I have just got to play golf and make it through.”
On breaking Dunne’s record Sveinbergsson commented, “It is always nice – he’s a great player and hopefully I can follow in his footsteps.”
Equaling the previous record and sitting just one behind Sveinbergsson is Alberto Castagnara. The 20-year-old Italian, ranked 794th in the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, made a blistering start to his first round at Prince’s recording six birdies on the front nine. On track to also break the course record, Castagnara slipped up with a bogey at the 15th – the only blemish on his scorecard – and signed for a seven-under-par 65.
“I couldn’t have expected to play so good. I was on the reserve list and I shot seven-under – it’s incredible,” said Castagnara on completing his round. “Tomorrow I will try to play my best but you never know how to play such a course as Royal St George’s - it will be tough but I will do my best.”
There was some good scoring at Prince’s throughout the day. The early pace was set by Welsh internationalist Tim Harry and South African Jovan Rebula, who both carded 66 to sit in joint third place at six-under-par.
Rebula, the nephew of two-time Champion Golfer of the Year Ernie Els, will now face Royal St Georges as he bids to qualify for the match play stages. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it’s a great golf course, it’s a true test.
“You have to hit good shots but if I play like a played today and just keep a good rhythm going, it could be pretty good.”
Harry, who represented GB&I in the 2014 and 2015 Jacques Leglise Trophy matches, added, “I know the course (Royal St George’s) is really nice – I just need to do the same things as today and hopefully get the same score or even better.
Leading English Players
The leading English players were in a group of six competitors tied for fifth place on five-under-par including Jack Singh Brar. “You can’t really afford to have a bad round in this tournament because only 64 qualify, so it’s good to get a nice low one in in the first round,” said Brar.
At Royal St George’s, Australia’s Zach Murray recorded the best score of the day with a four-under-par 66. “One bounced on the flagstick on 16 and landed within four feet and I missed it,” said Murray. “So it could have been a very low round but overall I was pretty happy with the way I played.”
“I’m out in the morning tomorrow so I have just got to keep the head down and put in a solid round and I should be here for Wednesday.”
The 122nd Amateur Championship is being contested by 288 competitors from 40 countries. The reward for the winner is a place in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale in July and the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills. Traditionally, the Amateur Champion is also invited to compete in the Masters Tournament.
The first stage of the championship comprises two qualifying rounds of stroke play, one round on each course, before the 64 players with the lowest scores and ties for 64th place progress to the match play stage at Royal St George’s. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes except the Final which will be over 36 holes.
ABOUT THE British Amateur
This championship, along with the US Amateur
Championship, is considered the most
The first stage of the Championship involves
288 players each of whom plays two rounds of
18 holes, one to be played on each of the two
courses. The 64 lowest scores over the 36
holes and ties for 64th place will compete in
the match play stage of the Championship.
Each match will consist of one round of 18
holes except the Final which will be over 36
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