England’s Ashley Chesters has taken a commanding lead in the race for the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur in The Open Championship.
The 25-year-old from Hawkstone Park carded a two-under-par 70 on his Open Championship debut to go into the second round four shots ahead of Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Cheng-Tsung Pan from Chinese Taipei, and five of ahead of Irish international, Paul Dunne, who led the field at the recent Local Final Qualifier at Woburn.
The fourth amateur, 19-year-old Bradley Neil from Scotland who won the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush posted a seven-over-par 79 in his Major debut.
Chesters opened his round with a birdie on the 458-yard par-4 1st hole but dropped a shot at the 426-yard par-4 3rd before returning to red figures with a second birdie of the day on the 528-yard par-5 5th.
The reigning European Amateur champion went on to drop shots at both the 480-yard par-4 7th and the 197-yard par-3 9th but then stormed home with four birdies in an inward half of three under par 34.
“That was just about as good as I could have expected,” admitted Chesters, who spent last week representing his country in the European Men’s Team Championship in Finland.
“I was very nervous on the first tee but I hit it down the middle and then knocked it onto the green and holed a 25-foot birdie putt.
“That helped a bit but it wasn’t until after about four or five holes that I started to settle down.
“Several people have asked me this week if my goal is to make the cut but my psychologist told me not to think about that,” he added. “He wants me to think about nothing more than hitting one shot at a time and then see where that gets me.”