No sooner had England chosen their team for next week’s Boys Home Internationals in Ireland than the form book was turned upside down on the second day of the English Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham.
Craig Stevenson, handed his first cap, crashed out at the first hurdle while Steven Lewton, dropped from the team, responded with a battling victory.
Stevenson, 17, from the Whittington Heath in Staffordshire, finished runner-up in last week’s English Under-18 Strokeplay Championship for the Carris Trophy. And he was second best again in the sunshine at Lytham, losing 4&2 to Robert Perrett from Somerset.
Bedfordshire’s Lewton had a tough tie against Chris Gill from Exeter and was one-down playing the 18th. But he bravely holed from 25-foot for birdie to take the match into extra holes and at the 20th he two-putted from 20 feet while Gill, who needed to hole from 15 feet for a half, missed and was out.
Lewton, a member of the England team that finished fourth in the European Boys Team Championships in Holland last month, didn’t know why he’d been dropped but said: “Well, I missed the cut in the Carris.”
Chris Russell, son of former tour professional D J Russell, celebrated his England call-up by beating ex-boy international Stuart Fromant from Essex 4&3, and his reward is a second round tie against Walker Cup man Gary Wolstenholme, who was in top form in putting out former Essex champion Ricky Blaxill 4&3.
David Ryles, the surprise packet of this year’s Amateur Championship when he reached the semi-finals, progressed into round two at the expense of veteran John Ambridge.
Ryles, from Surrey, was two-down after three and again after seven. Although he got level he didn’t get his nose in front until the 17th then got up-and-down from sand at the last for a half to edge through.
After 10 seeds came safely through on Monday, day two brought its first casualties when Greame Clark and Jamie Elson departed. Clark, last year’s Yorkshire champion and Order of Merit winner, crashed out 5&4 to Adam Ward, 22 from Lichfield, who was in good form having shot a course record 63 in winning the Woolaton Park Stag on Sunday.
“I play well enough but I just couldn’t put any pressure on him,” said Clark. Elson, at college in Augusta, became the second seed to fall when he was on the wrong end of a 2&1 scoreline against Lee Corfield, 17-year-old Somerset county teammate of Perrett.
Corfield was four-up after seven holes and although Elson cut the deficit be couldn’t make further inroads and they shook hands on the 17th green. Three other seeds made it through to the second round. Richard Finch, from Hull, had a tough encounter with Cornwall’s Adam Frayne, another former boy international, but came through by two holes, while Cheshire’s Sandeep Grewal crushed Ian Parnaby, from Durham, 6&4, and Midlander Tom Whitehouse had a 4&3 success over Anthony Laud from Worcestershire.
Nick Dougherty came safely through his second round tie 4&3 against Tom Peacock and was quickly followed by Jonathan Lupton who cruised through 4&2 over new boy cap Daniel Wardrop. But two seeds exited in round two.
David Dixon was beaten 2&1 by Edward Butler in an all-West Country duel, then Essex-based Richard McEvoy departed at the hands of Reading left-hander Geoff Harris, 4&3.
The day also saw a first ever hole-in-one by Steven Mitchell from Kent who sank his nine-iron tee shot at the 162-yard ninth. It enabled him to win his second round tie by one hole against Lee Boxall.