Silver in sight for solo amateur Alfie Plant
Alfie Plant can look forward to following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy after becoming the only amateur to make the cut at The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
The 25-year-old European Amateur champion fought back from dropping five shots over the first seven holes of his second round to card a battling 73 and qualify for the weekend on four over par 144.
The highlight of the round was a glorious eagle on the par five 15th where he hit a three-wood to around twelve feet and then holed the putt much to the delight of the vociferous 100-strong “Alfie’s Army” who braved the wind and rain to follow him every step of the way.
The Walker Cup Squad member and England internationalist now only must complete the final two rounds to collect the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds.
Former medallists include Woods and McIlroy, not to mention Justin Rose and Chris Wood who were the last two winners at Birkdale in 1998 and 2008, respectively. Rose, Wood, Plant has a certain ring to it, I’m sure horticulturalists enthusiasts will agree.
Plant was deservedly delighted when he met the media after his round.
“It’s a great feeling and I’m sure it’s going to get even better when it starts to sink in as the night goes on,” he said.
“The highlight was obviously the eagle. I was in-between clubs but I decided to hit the three-wood because it was a bit colder by then and I wanted to make sure I got up there. I absolutely nailed it straight down the stick.”
“I actually played nice on the front nine but it was so tough out there,” he added. “You were talking about fractions and the slight mistake would punish you. It’s been a tough day. At one point, I did begin to wonder if I was going to make it but, now that I have, I can’t begin to explain how good it feels.”
Plant was the only one of this year’s five amateur competitors to survive the half-way cut.
Scottish international Connor Syme had opened with a 73 and it looked for a while that he might make it when he reached the turn in 35 but he dropped a shot on the tenth and then three more on the short 12th to post a 76 and finish on nine over par 149.
Further down the leaderboard Italy’s Luca Cianchetti carded rounds of 75 and 76 to finish on 151 while American World No. 2, Maverick McNealy, and Amateur champion, Harry Ellis, both completed the two rounds in one shot more.