Golf: Philipson pulls the plug on favourites

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The Independent Online
Like the French Open tennis, the opening rounds of the Amateur Championship had their fair share of shocks. At least some of those here were caused by a fully qualified electrician. Shaun Philipson last night checked back into his hotel in Deal and today will play Michael Brooks, the son of the club professional here, in the third round.

The 33-year-old Geordie, who needs to take a holiday to compete in tournaments, short-circuited the hopes of two members of the Walker Cup squad, Shaun Webster and Graham Rankin. Refusing to give up at three down with four to play, Philipson fought back to beat Webster, the reigning English champion, at the 19th hole.

Rankin, winner of the Lytham Trophy last month, was described by Brooks as the "best player in Britain the way he has been playing". "On his day, Graham will beat me eight times out of 10, but he had a slightly off day," Philipson said.

It was a murky day, with hardly a hint of the sun glinting off the cooling towers of Richborough Power Station. Philipson was four up after seven holes but then saw the 31-year-old Scot level the match at the 15th. Rankin holed from 20 feet on the fringe to sneak ahead at the 17th, but then bunkered his approach at the last from the fairway.

Philipson had pulled his drive into the rough, but his "swipe with a nine-iron" was effective enough to find the green and keep the match alive. At the 19th, Philipson remarkably holed from 35 feet, forcing Rankin to follow him in from 15 feet, but the Scot had no answer when Philipson spun his five-iron back to within a foot of the hole at the 20th.

Jody Fanagan, like Rankin a member of the 1995 winning Walker Cup team, contrived a defeat when he bogeyed the last five holes to go from three up with three to play to lose at the 20th to an American, Steve Sheehan, the brother of Solheim Cup player Patty.

Despite not being a member of the club, Brooks took the largest following on an interesting journey, having been two down with five to play before beating Stuart Martin at the last. Justin Rose and Jose Manuel Lara meet this morning in a repeat of their encounter in the recent England-Spain international when Rose, who is 17 next month, was five under par and birdied three of the last four holes to win by one hole.

Greg Norman has turned down a lucrative offer to face Tiger Woods in a head-to-head challenge for television. Norman said he declined the chance of a best-of-three challenge against the US Masters champion because the timing of the event was not suitable.