Little Sam Hutsby took a giant step forward in his European Tour career yesterday with a brilliant seven-under-par 63 at the Andalusian Open in Malaga. The 21-year-old from Hampshire, ranked a lowly 491st in the world, shares the halfway lead on 10-under with South African Louis Oosthuizen, runner-up to Welshman Rhys Davies in Morocco last Sunday.
Hutsby, just 5ft 8in, could easily have been preparing for the Masters rather than playing in Spain this week. He reached the final of the British Amateur last June before losing to 16-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, who in two weeks' time will become the youngest player to appear at Augusta. Hutsby would have had to stay amateur to take up that opportunity if he had won that day, but instead he turned professional after the Walker Cup in September and finished second at the Tour's qualifying school only two months later.
Hutsby said: "I woke up quite a few times in the night, have a sore throat and am really bunged up, but that round has made me feel better."
It matched the new Parador course record set earlier in the day by fellow Tour rookie James Morrison – his effort contained a mere 19 putts – but less than an hour later Paul Waring, another of the English contingent, lowered the mark by one.
Hutsby's 63 was achieved with that very number on his ball, wedges and bag. That had been stamped on because it was the low round of his career, so it was rather convenient for the manufacturers that he did not chip in on the last.
Oosthuizen who also shot 63 and is four times a runner-up on the circuit without ever winning, even had a double bogey six in his round, but there was also an eagle and seven birdies. The 27-year-old, who drove out of bounds for his six on the 409-yard seventh, said: "I had to regroup a bit after that. I was a bit loose with my irons yesterday, but I sorted something out on the range."
Dane Soren Kjeldsen's hopes of becoming the first player to make a successful defence of a Tour title since Padraig Harrington's 2007 and 2008 Open double are still very much alive. He lies in third place after adding a 67 to his first day 65.
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie, who shared the first round lead with the Dane, dropped to joint fourth with a 68. Alongside him are fellow Scot Peter Whiteford, England's Richard Finch, Spaniard Gabriel Canizares and Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen.