Alfie Plant leads the race for the Silver Medal
Alfie Plant is the leading amateur competitor heading into the second round of The 146th Open.
The European Amateur champion, 25, carded a one over par 71, watched by about 150 family and friends from his native Kent, to claim a two-shot lead over Scottish international, Connor Syme, from Drumoig, just outside St Andrews.
Italian international, Luca Cianchetti, the 2016 European Amateur champion, shot a five over par 75, The Amateur champion, Harry Ellis, returned a 77 while American Maverick McNealy, the No. 2 on the World Amateur Golf RankingTM, closed with four consecutive bogeys to finish one shot further behind.
Plant has been looking forward to playing in The Open since beating Cianchetti and his compatriot, Lorenzo Scalise, in a play-off for this year’s European Amateur at Walton Heath and he came out firing on all cylinders with a birdie at his first hole.
“It was a great way to start,” he said. “I was quite surprised the ball went straight off the tee because I didn’t feel it come off the clubhead. I just tried to go through my routine and stay focussed, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.
“It lived up to expectations and more. I absolutely loved it,” he added.
“Day one is complete and now it’s on to day two to see if we can make it to the weekend. The good news is that I’ve given myself a chance and that’s all you can do at this stage. I couldn’t be happier.”
2016 Australian Amateur champion, Syme, looked to be struggling when he bogeyed the 15th and double-bogeyed the 16th but he bounced back with consecutive birdies on his final two holes.
“I felt the nerves a bit heading round to the first tee but, once you get there, you tell yourself this is what you practise for,” he said. “Luckily, I hit a good shot, made a good par, and that settled me down a bit.
“I didn’t really have a target in mind today. But my goal now is to try to make the cut and my birdie, birdie finish gives me a chance. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Ellis got into The Open after coming back from four down with five to play to beat Australia’s Dylan Perry on the 38th hole of the final at the recent Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s. He did not score as well as he wanted but was not too disappointed with the way he played.
“I had a really good day,” he said. “I felt good coming into the round but had a couple of bad swings and that cost me dear. “If you look at my scorecard, you will see I had no doubles out there. It was just minute mistakes that cost me. Just a couple of loose shots here and there, but this golf course will penalise you for that. It’s not what I wanted but it’s not horrific either. Hopefully, I can stick in tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.
“You’re never out of it,” he added. “You saw what happened at The Amateur, so we’ll go out to play tomorrow and then see where we’re at. I still believe I belong out here. I haven’t had the best of rounds but nothing has happened to make me change my mind.”