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2nd July 2009

Max Orrin from Kent shot a best-of-the-day 67 to share the lead with Bertrand Mommaerts of Belgium at the halfway mark of the English Boys Under 16 Championship for the McGregor Trophy.

They lead by one from six players including overnight leader Seb Crookall-Nixon, who looked like staying ahead until the 13th at Radcliffe-on-Trent proved unlucky for the defending champion.

Orrin, a member of the Kent Under 16 team, was helped to his superb 67 by an eagle-three at the seventh where he fired a three-wood to eight feet and holed the putt to go with two birdies. “I'm in good form at the moment after finishing in the top ten in last weekend's Kent Amateur Championship.” said the lad from North Foreland.

Mommaerts is overjoyed with his position because he arrived at Radcliffe not knowing the quality of the rest of the field. “I had a bad start to both my rounds. I was two over after four holes yesterday and three over after nine today,” he said. “But I pushed hard and managed three birdies.” Mommaerts, 15, from Waterloo, could be a danger tomorrow as he has twice won the Belgium Under 14 title.

As Orrin and Mommaerts moved to the top of the leaderboard, overnight leader Crookall-Nixon slipped back with a 72 for 138, two under. The defending champion was going along nicely at five under through 12 holes. But at the 13th he fired his tee shot into water, took a drop then put his ball under a bush at the back of the green which resulted in a second penalty stroke. A chip and two putts meant a triple-bogey seven and his lead was gone.

“I played well over the front nine but I had that one bad hole which isn't bad for two rounds,” he said. “My game wasn't as connected as yesterday but I know there is a lot more in me. I came here with the target of making the cut and I've done that. To win again would be wonderful and I know only one person has ever won two in a row.”

Also on two-under-par 138 is Yorkshire's David Lloyd, in the same game as Orrin, who came home in 32 with four birdies for a 68 to his opening 70. On the same mark is Orrin's Kent team-mate Liam Harper, Curtis Griffiths from Wentworth, Spain's Adria Arnaus, and Nick Newbold from Derbyshire, who had three birdies in the closing five holes in a 70.

Harper, who returned 71, admitted he struggled with his game. “I couldn't keep the ball on the fairway but I scrambled well,” he said. Despite that, he got to three under on the 18th tee but bogeyed the hole after misreading the wind. “I thought it was right to left but it was straight down,” he added. “But I'm happy with my position.”

Another 68 was returned by Curtis Griffiths from Wentworth, who came home in 32 while the other player on 138 is Spain's Adria Arnaus, who shot a second 69.

For the second successive day there was a hole-in-one. This time it was recorded by Robert Burlison who sank his six-iron tee shot at the 198-yard 11th hole. It was the Staffordshire-based 14 year old's maiden ‘ace' and he said: “It just ran up the green, hit the flag and dropped in.”

England 1 won the Nations Cup decided over the first two rounds. With the best two scores to count in each round, the team of Crookall-Nixon, Oliver Carr and Toby Tree finished on 279, a stroke ahead of Wales 1 and England 2.

The cut came at 145, five over par, with 47 players surviving to compete over the final 36 holes.

Hole by hole scores, championship commentary and more information about the McGregor Trophy can be found on the EGU website at www.englishgolfunion.org .

1st July 2009

Seb Crookall-Nixon won't be giving up the McGregor Trophy without a fight. An opening four-under-par 66 not only gives him a one-shot first round lead but has thrown down a challenge to the rest of the field.

Seb Crookall-Nixon
Sebastian Crookall-Nixon (Photo Tom Ward)

At one stage it seemed the defending champion from Cumbria would enjoy a comfortable four-shot advantage. But Bertrand Mommaerts from Belgium and Liam Harper, the England Under 16 cap from Kent, produced fine 67s to close on him at the top of the leaderboard. Despite another fiercely hot day, even when play started at 7.30am, conditions were ideal for good golf and it didn't take long to arrive.

Crookall-Nixon (photo courtesy of Tom Ward), who won the title at High Post in Wiltshire a year ago, was in the second game out at 7.40am and didn't drop a shot in his 66. He only found one birdie in an outward 34 but made his score with further birdies at the 12th, 15th and 17th.

“I'm pleased with that start,” he said. “It puts me in a good position but I've got to go out tomorrow and do that again. I've been shooting some low scores this season and I'm trying to peak at the right time. So I may have done so.”

He was well ahead of the rest of the 132-string field for a few hours before Mommaerts posted his 67. He would have matched Crookall-Nixon but for a bogey on the final hole which came after three successive birdies. In all, the Belgian had six birdies and came home in a splendid 32 strokes.

Harper was a late starter and had four birdies in his 67. “If I could have holed a few putts early on it would have been even better,” he said. “Then I started to find my stroke and I holed a few over the last ten holes.”

Four players are locked on 68 including Nick Newbold, 16, who managed three birdies and one dropped shot on his card. A member of the Derbyshire Under 16 and Under 18 teams, he will be hoping not to repeat his performance of a year ago. “Then I was eighth going into the final two rounds but fell away badly,” he said. “I've got to do better this time.”

Joe Richardson also shot 68 which was another fine effort and is in contrast to his 2008 performance when he missed the halfway cut. “I'm happy with 68,” remarked the 2007 BB&O Under 14 Champion. “It could have been better but I made a couple of long putts at 16 and 17 so that balanced it out.”

Two-handicapper Patrick Mullins, 15 year old Welsh cap, had five birdies in his 68 while Casto Gomez Ruiz had four in his. The current English Under 14 Champion Toby Tree posted a 72, finishing his round with four successive threes, three of them birdies. And the first round was highlighted by a first-ever hole-in-one for Ireland's Keith Egan, who sank his seven iron tee shot at the 175-yard sixth hole. Even so, he wasn't a happy teenager. “I lost the ball at the 16th and ran up a triple-bogey seven,” he said after signing for 72.

In the race for the Nations Cup, England 1 lead on 135, two ahead of Wales 1 with England 2 on 138.




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