Mark McNulty of Zimbabwe smashed the course record at Leven Links with an incredible nine-under par 62. But amazingly, he only leads by one shot going into the second round as the world’s best Amateur, Luke Donald from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire fired a 63 of his own to virtually guarantee his spot in the 129th Open Championship.
“It was just what the doctor ordered,” said McNulty. “You don’t get a second chance in these Open qualifiers.”
And Donald, who is taking the amateur scene by storm, reminded everyone that he is the man to watch for the Silver Medal tournament for highest placed amateur.
Donald, who finished low amateur last year at Carnoustie missed out on the Silver Medal because, like a few other world class players, he missed the halfway cut.
“It’s a high-class field and there are a lot of good players, so I’m very happy to have made such a good start,” said Donald. “I’ve set myself up well to go through and now I can control my own destiny, which is the way I like it.”
The second round of the qualifying is still currently underway around four courses close to St Andrews, Lundin Links, Leven Links, Scotscraig and Ladybank.
English players Roger Chapman, Mark Mouland and Greg Owen, all playing at Leven Links, are in the hunt for the ten places at each venue after shooting 7-under par 64’s, trailing the leader McNulty by two shots.
Barry Lane, Andrew McLardy of South Africa, Paul Lyons and Jean-Francois Remesy of France are ahead at Ladybank after round one, all shooting 68’s around the heathland venue.
And Lundin links gave way to a pair of 66’s for Barry Lane and American David Sutherland.
1999 Amateur champion Graeme Storm is a further shot behind joined by reputedly the best putter in the world, Brad Faxon.
“I think everybody back home knows my feelings about this tournament,” said Faxon. “I played in the 1997 Dunhill Cup and fell in love with St. Andrews. “I haven’t had to qualify in a while. I hate having to qualify, but this is my favourite tournament. My putter is off and on – it used to be always on.”
And Sutton Coldfield’s Peter Baker, a former Ryder cup star holed-in-one at the 12th hole, a 150-yard par three to make his the most expensive “round” of the day!
Over at Scotscraig, Paul Eales takes a two shot lead into the final round where he, like McNulty on the same day, set the new course record with a 7-under par 64. Eales made that his third course record he has set during the pressure of Open qualifying.