Jack Bigham of England led the qualifiers into the match play stages of the R&A Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports as 144 players became 64 at the end of the second round of strokeplay qualifying.
Carding a bogey-free five-under-par 67, he finished on a total of eight-under-par for the two rounds of qualifying. He raced clear of second placed qualifier Jamie Mann after the pair were locked on three-under-par after the first round yesterday.
Bigham carried on from where he left off after the first round as he produced a great performance around the Kent links to finish three shots ahead of Mann. After stuttering slightly heading out on the front nine yesterday, the England boys international managed to cut out those errors today with three birdies-in-a-row from the 4th hole and two further birdies on the back nine.
With the championship now entering the match play format and the round of 64 commencing tomorrow, the Englishman will have to manage any expectations on his shoulders after two impressive back-to-back rounds.
“Obviously I have played well, and I will just try to forget about where I have finished. Match play is just completely different to strokeplay, but yes hopefully I will just carry on the good golf that I have played and see how I go,’’ Bigham said.
Mann backed up his three-under-par round of 69 yesterday with a two-under-par 70 which sees him sitting in second place at the end of qualifying. His second round, which included an eagle on the 3rd and birdies on the 5th and 18th, marks two promising performances for the Scot despite his lack of experience playing on links golf courses.
“Obviously I have played well, and I will just try to forget about where I have finished. Match play is just completely different to strokeplay." - Jack Bigham.
‘’It was more of a grind out there today, especially those last seven holes. They were playing tough, and the wind really picked up, especially on the back nine,” Mann said. “I was just trying to grind it out coming in, made a great birdie on 18 to get it back to two-under, so yes I was really happy with how I managed it today especially on the back nine.’’
Another success story of the day was the performance of Calum Scott after he also carded a five-under-par 67 following a two-over-par start on day one.
The 17-year-old matched Bigham with the joint best score of round two which was helped by a chip-in eagle on the par-5 16th and five birdies despite not taking the driver out of his bag all day. The seven-shot swing from the opening round saw the Scottish hopeful finish on a three-under-par total.
Harley Yates earned his place in the last 64 with a two-under-par 70 which led to him finishing alongside Scott, whilst Ben Loveard booked his place finishing on two-under-par at the end of the day’s play.
Josh Hill, the top ranked player in the field, and Harley Smith ended stroke play qualifying one short further back on one-under par alongside Scottish duo Cameron Johnstone and Gregor Graham.
The cut mark fell at 10-over-par with the top 64 players qualifying for the match play stage.