Sam Bairstow (Royal & Ancient photo)
With this week’s winner securing an exemption to The 150th Open in St. Andrews next month, Sam Bairstow kept his dreams alive after defeating leading stroke play qualifier Jonathan Broomhead from South Africa by a convincing 6&4 margin in the last 32.
The 23-year-old, who won the Brabazon Trophy last year, then kept his cool in the afternoon sun in Lancashire after birdies at the 2nd and the 8th helped him defeat Irishman Jack Hearn 4&3.
"It was amazing," he recalled of his experience at Sandwich 12 months ago. "To get it done in qualifying and play at St George's, with obviously the best players in the world, was really good."
Bairstow now faces Ludvig Aberg in the quarter-finals – the third-best player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking® – after the Swede beat countryman Henrik Lilja on the 19th this morning. With Peter Hanson caddying for him, the former Ryder Cup player, he then saw off another Irishman, Matthew McClean, by 3&1 after three birdies in the opening eight holes.
“This is what I came for,” said Aberg. “This is what you want to get out of this week – wins. I feel very honored to be here and it's just fun. That was Peter’s (Hanson) first caddie assignment since 1998, when he caddied for his wife. I guess I'm a little blessed to have him carry my bag. Just having him around is great for us.”
Thursday's Results and Quarterfinals Draw
Irishman Peter O’Keeffe was a one-hole winner over Frenchman Nathan Legendre in the afternoon and now faces in-form John Gough, who holed a 15-foot putt on the 18th to see off the challenge of Welshman James Ashfield. Gough, a morning winner over Sandy Scott, has now lost only one of his last 23 match-play ties and also won the Lytham Trophy at the Lancashire venue in May.
“I've been playing pretty poor golf all season,” admitted O’Keeffe. “I wasn’t even going to come because I played brutal in a tournament back home last week, so we said we would make a family holiday out of it.
“This is the dream, you know, so it's worth showing up at least, and I played okay in qualifying. I got it going in places and just kind of played smart golf here the first few days and then played lovely today. It's a holiday for the family in their mind and I'm playing golf all day and my poor wife is minding our one and three-year-olds for the days!”
Gough added, “I'd like to keep the record going. Obviously, a few more games to go this week. At the end of the week, this could be the biggest week of my life. With the way I'm playing, I'm very confident and I feel very happy with my game, so there are no reasons why I can't do it.
“After winning the Lytham Trophy here in May, myself and my caddie were walking down 13 and I said, ‘I feel lately like we've played so many rounds around this place.’ I think it's around 12 or 13 now with the practice rounds. There is no better place to play lots of golf.”
Australian Max Charles progressed too, edging out William Hopkins by a hole and then seeing off Caolan Rafferty from Ireland 4&3. Charles meets Ireland’s Alex Maguire tomorrow after he defeated Jamie Wilson by one hole to end Scottish interest in the Championship.
Charles commented, “I was a bit nervous going into it today but the game fell into place and it was fun out there. There was no wind, so the course played a bit different to the past week. But, yeah, I played solid and managed to get two wins.
“My game is in a good spot at the moment and so all I can do is keep trusting it. I’m pretty happy with how it's going.”
Dreaming of St. Andrews
“It's probably the biggest week of anyone's life if you win this,” added Maguire. “It started creeping in last week when I was coming to play. A lot of my friends and my parent's friends were texting me saying, ‘it's only like six rounds to The Open’. I know I've done half of those.
“Look, you never know what can happen over the next couple of days. I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself.”
Germany’s Laurenz Schiergen faces Aldrich Potgieter from South Africa in the final quarter-final tie. Schiergen defeated Nevill Ruiter from the Netherlands in the afternoon, while Potgieter saw off compatriot Kyle De Beer at the 19th.
ABOUT THE British Amateur
This championship, along with the US Amateur Golf
Championship, is considered the most important in
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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