Corfield weathers pressure to set up classic final

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The Independent Online

It may be entirely appropriate that a Scot will play in today's final of the Amateur Championship at the "Home of Golf" but at least Lee Corfield made it a classic Anglo-Scottish affair. Yesterday morning the man from Dundee was bragging that there were more representatives from Angus left in the competition than there were from the whole of England.

It may be entirely appropriate that a Scot will play in today's final of the Amateur Championship at the "Home of Golf" but at least Lee Corfield made it a classic Anglo-Scottish affair. Yesterday morning the man from Dundee was bragging that there were more representatives from Angus left in the competition than there were from the whole of England.

Not any more, although to be fair that was because county team-mates, Forfar's Stuart Wilson and Eric Ramsay, from Carnoustie, were drawn together in one of the semi-finals. Wilson, the Walker Cup player, won 2 and 1 after Ramsay, who also fell at the same stage last year, failed to escape the infamous Road Hole Bunker.

Corfield, a 21-year-old from Somerset, survived two tight matches to reach the final, the winner of which will receive exemptions to the Open Championship and next year's Masters at Augusta. Corfield was too busy concentrating on the matter at hand for his thoughts to stray to such opportunities.

In the quarter-finals, he was never ahead against the Madrid business graduate Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano until winning at the 19th. He trailed from the opening hole, was three down after four and did not get back to level until the 17th, where the Spaniard also found that nasty bunker and took three to get out.

Corfield then almost holed from 80 feet at the last but when Fernandez-Castano sank a 20-footer for his three, the Englishman had to tap in to take the match to extra holes. Only one was needed, with the Spaniard missing the green to the right and Corfield winning with a par.

After lunch, Corfield faced Andrew Svoboda, a New Yorker who is a member and four-time club champion at Winged Foot. The 25-year-old American was behind until he birdied the 16th to square the match but was also in the Road Hole bunker at the 17th.

He elected to play out backwards and then proceeded to play a skilful putt around the trap. There was the question of whether Svoboda had played out of turn from the sand but Corfield, who could have had the shot replayed, decided to let it go. Unfortunately, he promptly three-putted to halve the hole in five.

At the last, however, in front of a healthy gallery including his mother and girlfriend, Corfield's two-putt from 50 feet proved decisive. "That's as much pressure as I have ever been under," he said. "Mentally, I'm in the clouds at the moment but physically I'm fine. I'm relieved and looking forward to tomorrow."

Ramsay was involved in a remarkable quarter-final with the Welshman Rhys Davies. Ramsay holed a bunker shot on the fly from 30 yards at the 15th to go two up but lost the next two and had to hole from 15 feet at the last to stay alive.

At the second extra hole, he pushed his drive so far right he hit a provisional into the same bunker on the left found by Davies. Extraordinarily, Ramsay's original ball was found on the first fairway of the New course and not out of bounds. Suddenly, when Davies, going for the green, left his second shot in the bunker, he was the man under pressure and soon succumbed.

Amateur Championship (Old Course, St Andrews) Quarter-finals: S Wilson (Forfar) bt F Molinari (It) 3 and 1; L Corfield (Burnham and Berrow) bt G Fernandez-Castano (Sp) at 19th; E Ramsay (Carnoustie) bt R Davies (Royal Porthcawl) at 20th; A Svoboda (US) bt M Halliday (Royal Aberdeen) 4 and 3. Semi-finals: Corfield bt Svoboda 1 hole; Wilson bt Ramsay 2 and 1.

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