Spectacular scoring has created a three-way tie on nine-under par at the halfway stage of the European Amateur Championship at Walton Heath, Surrey.
Spain’s Victor Pastor staked the first claim to the lead when he came in with his eight-under 64, moving him up 47 places. He was joined by Switzerland’s Jeremy Freiberghaus, who scored 66, and Australia’s Dylan Perry, who added 69 to his opening 66.
Tucked right in behind them on eight-under are England’s Matthew Jordan and German’s Matthias Schmid, who was the day’s big mover, rocketing up 72 places with his nine-under 63, the low round of the championship so far.
They’re part of a very crowded leaderboard with almost 30 players within five shots of the lead, creating a highly competitive atmosphere. “It’s always good to see a lot of bunched players,” said Perry. “Everyone is playing well and you’ve just got to keep doing the right things and put the scores on the board.”
He built on his first round with the benefit of an increasingly hot putter which provided him with three birdies and an eagle on his back nine. “All in all I’m very pleased with where I am, heading into the third round,” added Perry, who was runner-up in last weekend’s Amateur Championship.
Great putting was a common theme among the day’s best players. Pastor, 22, was one-under in the first round and commented: “I played the same on both days but I missed some putts yesterday. Today I holed five or six putts of five or six metres.”
Meanwhile Freiberghaus had seven birdies in a spell of nine holes, starting his run on the fourth, where he almost holed his second shot. The momentum faded after the 12th and he was unable to capitalise on the closing par fives, but he was undismayed: “It was a little bit frustrating but it shows me I can make some improvement.”
By contrast Matthew Jordan’s round took off on the 12th when he holed a 57-yard pitch for an eagle two and he followed up with birdies on the three par fives which make the back nine so score-able. “When that shot went in it was a massive bonus and I really tried to capitalise,” he remarked.
Jordan, who recently won the St Andrews Links Trophy, is another player who is only too well aware of the need to bear down. “This is a very good standard of competition and you have to go out there and try and shoot a score. You can’t slow down!”
He shares fourth place with Matthias Schmid whose nine-under 63 was a personal best and also improved on his first day score by 10 shots. The difference was the putting, which helped him amass seven birdies and two eagles, on the eighth, where holed a 20-footer and on the 16th, where he left himself an 18 inch putt.
“I felt very calm, I just made hole after hole, shot after shot,” he said. “My putter was unbelievable and I rolled a few long ones in.” But he also confessed: “I did have on three-putt on the 15th – it was a bit of a shocker!”
The nine players on seven-under include defending champion Luca Cianchetti of Italy who was round in 67 today; and England’s Josh McMahon (Wallasey) who matched his score with a bogey-free card.
There’s more English interest in the group on six under. Alfie Plant (Sundridge Park, Kent) set off in style with a birdie on the first and went to sign for 66. “I’ve been playing well for the last few weeks and it’s just been a matter of time before the putts started dropping,” he said. Daniel O’Loughlin (Ruddington Park, Nottinghamshire) birdied three of the last five holes to add 71 to his opening 67.
First round leader Lorenzo Scalise of Italy slipped back to five-under par and a share of 19th place after returning a second round 75.
After tomorrow’s third round the field will be cut to the leading 60 players and ties who will play the final round on Saturday.