Blinkhorn marches on in English Amateur

REPUTATIONS counted for little on day four of the English Amateur, supported by abacus, at Saunton with three of the four surviving full internationals departing as those with lesser pedigree seized their chance to grab the spotlight.



None more so than Southport & Ainsdale’s Sean Blinkhorn, who ended Ryan Evans’ hopes with a 2 and 1 win to set up a quarter-final showdown with Corhampton’s Scott Gregory..

“This is a feather in my cap,” he said. “Ryan is one of the top lads in the England team and to his credit he complimented me on my game. “I failed to qualify narrowly last year at Frilford Heath and I just came here to see what I could do. I just wanted to qualify this time.”

Evans, who got out of jail in his morning match with Tom Gandy on the 19th after almost losing his ball when one down playing 18, said: “I played better than this morning but anything I did Sean did better. He didn’t let me in but I didn’t hole enough.”

Jordan Smith went the same way even though Jack Cardy needed an extra hole to make the quarter finals despite trailing two down with four to play.

The third cap to go was Toby Tree who fell to Jamie Mist, who built a three hole lead by the turn and didn’t allow the Sussex man to come back and ran out a 3 and 1 winner.

However, the fourth international Nick Marsh managed to buck the trend but he was also taken to the 19th before seeing off Luke Johnson. Marsh led for most of the way but Johnson battled back and made a great up-and-down at the last from below the green to force extra time.

Easily the biggest crowd followed in the wake of Saunton’s own Jake Burnage and he didn’t disappoint with a 3 and 2 morning victory over James McCormick before a 2 and 1 victory over Daniel Wasteney.

What made Burnage’s second success all the more rewarding was that he lost the first two holes and was three down after four. But with his club members giving him strength he found three birdies in four holes from the 11th plus a winning par to go 1-up.

Wasteney levelled again with an eagle at 15 but Burnage went ahead again at 16 and although both players missed the green at 17, the local lad got up-and-down for par which Wasteney failed to match.

“I just wanted to get through the stroke play,” said the 19 year old. “This is awesome and I can’t think the Saunton members enough for their support today.”

Gregory, who eased through in the morning with a two-hole win against Jack Gaunt, was another to find himself three down in the afternoon against David Houlding. Gregory was facing defeat after just eight holes but he rolled in three successive birdies from the ninth then grabbed the lead at 13.

In a see-saw tussle holes were swapped and both had chances at 18 to settle matters only to see their putts shave the hole. The end came on the 20th when Houlding pulled his shot left to eventually make six and concede.

“To make the quarter finals feels good,” said Gregory. “I missed qualifying last year but I have played consistently all season and I had fairly high expectations coming here this week.”



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