SOUTHPORT, England -- Six members of Great Britain and Ireland’s 2011 Walker Cup squad have reached Thursday’s second match-play round of the British Amateur at Hillside Golf Club. Paul Cutler, Tom Lewis, Michael Stewart, Andrew Sullivan, Oliver Farr and Alastair Jones are each five matches away from the berths in the 2011 British Open and 2012 Masters that await this week’s winner.
Leading the way was Ireland’s Cutler, whose outward nine of 32 gave him a lead over Victor Perez of France that would not be relinquished. The 2011 West of Ireland Open Champion progressed through stroke play qualifying by just one shot, but appears to be one of the form players after the first day of match play.
“I really found the flow after the birdies on 2, 3 and 5,” said the plus-4-handicapper. “I putted so well today; that was the difference. If I keep doing that, and keep swinging well, I should be fine.”
England’s Lewis made a similar number of birdies, including four in a row from the 195-yard, par-3 third, but found a tough opponent in compatriot Garrick Porteous, with whom Lewis played foursomes for England at under-18 level.
“He played solid. I knew he would do. He only dropped shots at one hole today,” said Lewis, who receives coaching from Pete Cowen, Lee Westwood’s coach. “I had a spree of holing putts, made a few birdies and eventually came through.”
And Lewis’ fellow squad member Stewart is also through, after defeating Mark Young 5&4. Stewart’s progress this week underlines a return to full fitness for the Scot, who missed the recent Walker Cup training match because of a wrist injury.
“It’s great to see six of the squad make it through to the last 32,” said GB&I Walker Cup Captain Nigel Edwards. “GB&I players have had a lot of success in big amateur events, this year, and I hope that continues, this week.”
Despite the good progress of players from the home nations, the last 32 has an international flavor, with 17 nations represented.
The USA’s Alex Johnson is safely through, having defeated Hamza Sayin of Turkey 2&1, as is Brazil’s Daniel Stapff. With Bolivia’s Sebastian MacLean, who failed to make the match play stage, caddying for him, Stapff ended the hopes of South African Reikus Nortje, 4&3.
“I’m so proud to be here representing Brazil,” he said. “It is my first Amateur Championship and I travelled because I really wanted to test myself against the world’s best; now that I am in the last 32, I can say that was worth the trip.”
Two New Zealanders have also progressed. Landyn Edwards, whose 4-under-par 68 at Hillside was the best of the day in the first 18 holes of qualifying, joins current world No. 25 Ben Campbell in the second match play round.
“I missed so many putts today, so I’ll work on that before tomorrow, but I’ve been swinging it well for over a year now,” said Campbell. “It’ll all come good, though -- I’m sure of that.”
Other notables to proceed included former R&A Foundation Scholar Patrick Spraggs, Sebastian Gros of France and Finland’s Toni Hakula. 2010 Boys Amateur Champion Adrian Otaegui and stroke play qualifying medallist Gregory Eason, however, both failed to reach the next round.