amateur golf
amateur golf

Casey Steams to Final
Bill Meredith
Electronic Telegraph


PAUL CASEY, the holder, will meet Walker Cup player Gary Wolstenholme over 36 holes in today's final of the English Amateur Championship. It should be a classic worthy of the famous links at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros and Bobby Locke have all carved their names with pride on the Lytham honours board and there in gold letters is the name of Wolstenholme - back in 1956, Guy Wolstenholme won the English Amateur. Now Gary hopes to follow in his father's footsteps.

Wolstenholme, nudging 40, has won almost every honour in the amateur game: Walker Cup, Eisenhower Trophy, more than 100 England caps and the Amateur Championship. Everything except the English Amateur. Casey, 23, has never played for England, mainly because he has been at Arizona State University for three years, where he has smashed records set by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. He has returned to Britain occasionally, to win the 1999 English Amateur and play in last year's winning Walker Cup side. At Lytham he has been behind only once in his seven-match run to the final; that was on the first hole of his clash with Steven Mitchell on Thursday, and he rectified that at the next hole.

Yesterday he had two tough encounters, beating England cap John Morgan 2 and 1 in the morning and then accounting for Cheshire matchplay champion Barry Barker by the same score. There was some marvellous golf, and nothing better than the two shots to the 485-yard 11th green in the semi-final. Barker's wood was magnificent, soaring around the dog-leg. Then Casey equalled this effort with a wonderfully-struck iron. Both putted for eagle threes, and halved in birdie fours. Barker, 27, in his first English Amateur, proved he could live with the best, despite badly blistered feet. Now he will try for his Tour card as a pro in the autumn.

Wolstenholme beat off a determined challenge by Simon Bell, 16, in the quarter-finals. The English Schools champion for Yorkshire hung on until the 15th, where Wolstenholme edged two ahead for the first time. In his semi-final against David Ryles, 20, Wolstenholme was five up after seven holes. It was a flying start from which the young Surrey player did not recover. Wolstenholme went on to win 5 and 4, but said afterwards: "I'm sure Ryles can play for England. I would certainly like him as a foursomes partner." Ryles, a student at Charleston Southern University in the United States, has now reached the last four of the Amateur and English Amateur. "I seem to have trouble with semi-finals," he said.

Details ENGLISH AMATEUR CH'SHIP (Royal Lytham & St Annes).- Qtr-finals: B Barker (Reddish Vale) bt B Kruze (The Warwickshire) 1 hole, P Casey (Burhill) bt J Morgan (Clevedon) 2 & 1, D Ryles (West Hill) bt D Griffiths (West Herts) 3 & 2, G Wolstenholme (Kilworth Springs) bt S Bell (Northcliffe) 2 & 1. Semi-finals: Casey bt Barker 2 & 1, Wolstenholme bt Ryles 5 & 4.

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