Celebrations inspire Edwards' progress

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For Nigel Edwards, the Welsh hero of the Walker Cup, playing in the Wales Open might have been a great experience. Instead, he is hoping for something even more special, with the Amateur Championship being staged at the "Home of Golf" and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews celebrating its 250th anniversary.

For Nigel Edwards, the Welsh hero of the Walker Cup, playing in the Wales Open might have been a great experience. Instead, he is hoping for something even more special, with the Amateur Championship being staged at the "Home of Golf" and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews celebrating its 250th anniversary.

Somewhat overshadowing the glories of their clubhouse behind the first tee, a marquee of gigantic proportions running along the first fairway will host the festivities for which the great and good of the golfing world, including Arnold Palmer and Peter Thomson, have gathered from all corners.

Edwards secured the winning point at Ganton last year when Great Britain and Ireland beat the Americans for the third match running. The 35-year-old, whose day job is acting as the golf co-ordinator for the Welsh Golf Union based at Celtic Manor, only arrived in St Andrews at 11.30 on Sunday night after running the Welsh Youth Championship all last week.

Without a practice round, he survived the 36-hole strokeplay qualifying - Trip Kuehne, the US Walker Cup player and brother of professionals Hank and Kelli, did not - and six birdies in the first 11 holes of the Old Course yesterday gave Edwards a comfortable 4 and 3 second-round victory over American Chris Botsfield.

"It's an unfortunate clash with the Wales Open but I can't think of anywhere better to win the Amateur than here," Edwards said. "With the R and A celebrations as well it would be extra special."

Gary Wolstenholme, the 43-year-old defending champion, progressed but it was a day to forget for many of his more youthful England team-mates. Matthew Richardson, the 19-year-old winner of the Brabazon Trophy last month, lost at the 19th to the Ernie Els look-alike Dawie van der Walt.

James Heath became the sixth successive winner of the qualifying to fall at the first hurdle of the matchplay section by losing to Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, his foursomes partner from the Bonallack Trophy, in which Europe plays an Asia-Pacific team.

Heath, 21, recently won the Lytham Trophy by eight strokes with a score of 18 under par, better than any Open champion at the same course, and birdies at the ninth and 10th, an eagle at the 12th and another birdie at the 13th took him from two-down to two-up. But Fernandez-Castano, who was 10th at the Madrid Open on the European Tour last October, holed a 15-footer on the final green to win by one hole.

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