June 1, 2004
Tennessee's Ross McGowan fired a six-under-par 66 in the opening round of the 36-hole qualifying for the British Amateur Championship on the Jubilee Course at St. Andrews Monday. McGowan enters Tuesday's play in a three-way tie for first-place.
Ross Fisher from Wentworth and Ricardo Santos of Portugal share the lead with McGowan for the first round of 36-hole qualifying for the Amateur Championship with a six-under-par scores of 66 around the Old Course at St Andrews..
Fisher, a 23-year-old member of England's elite squad, ran into trouble at the infamous 17th hole or he would have taken the outright lead. His recovery from the Road Hole bunker finished on the path behind the green and the hole cost him two strokes to par. But he had amassed eight birdies over 16 holes for a share of the top spot. One of his playing partners, Simon Mackenzie of West Linton, said: "It's the best round of golf I have ever seen."
With four holes to play in the Lytham Trophy earlier this year Fisher injured his right wrist and finished as runner-up. Since then he has played only four rounds of golf.
Santos had five birdies and an eagle, holing a full six-iron at the 13th. He missed just one green in regulation, at the long par-five 14th, for his only dropped shot of the day. The 21-year-old from Vilamoura is making his first appearance in the Amateur and his first visit to Scotland. He entered the Championship on the advice of the Portuguese Golf Federation.
McGowan, a senior-to-be at at the University in Tennessee, found the par-five holes on the Jubilee well within his range, two-putting for birdies at both the 11th and 12th holes on his way to an inward 31. He knew the Eden course from taking part in the St Andrews Boys event as a 15-year-old but had never before played either the Old or the Jubilee.
Dawie Van Der Walt, a 21-year-old South African who looks remarkably like fellow countryman Ernie Els, is one of a group of players in joint second place after a 67 on the Jubilee, a score matched by Robert Dinwiddie of Barnard Castle, Richard Ramsay of Royal Aberdeen and Eric Ramsay of Carnoustie.
Van Der Walde had six birdies in a round that was blighted only by three putts from 15 feet on the last green. Winner of the South African Amateur Championship this year, he has been selected to represent his country in the World Amateur Team Championships.
Stuart Wilson from Forfar is one of the chasing pack on 68. An R&A bursary student and member of the victorious Walker Cup team last year, he has been out of action over recent weeks with tendonitis in his ankle. He had to withdraw from the Lytham Trophy where he was the defending champion, and was unable to play in the Scottish Strokeplay Championship.
Defending champion Gary Wolstenholme had a one-under-par 71 on the Old Course to put himself firmly in contention, but there were a wealth of fine scores, with 76 players under par.
The first stage of the Championship involves 288 players each of whom plays two rounds of stroke play, one on each of the two courses. The players with the lowest scores over the 36 holes and ties for 64th place compete in the second stage of the Championship. The second stage of the Championship is match play and commences on Wednesday 2nd June over the Old Course. Each match consists of 18 holes except the final which is played over 36 holes.
The leading 64 and ties at the completion of 36 holes will go into the matchplay
stage on Wednesday.