Wolstenholme relinquishes title after putting 'disaster'

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The Independent Online

This was the day the wheels fell off at the Amateur Championship. Mainly, they were coming off the trolleys carrying the players' golf bags but it could also apply to England's élite squad, who were up at the "Home of Golf" for a training session last week, but whose sole remaining member in today's quarter-finals is Burnham and Berrow's Lee Corfield.

This was the day the wheels fell off at the Amateur Championship. Mainly, they were coming off the trolleys carrying the players' golf bags but it could also apply to England's élite squad, who were up at the "Home of Golf" for a training session last week, but whose sole remaining member in today's quarter-finals is Burnham and Berrow's Lee Corfield.

Gary Wolstenholme, attempting to become the first player to retain the title since Peter McEvoy in 1978, takes note of things like biorhythms and thought it was a bad omen when a wheel became detached from his trolley just prior to his third-round match yesterday morning. For Mark Halliday, a 31-year-old chartered surveyor from Aberdeen, the trolley breakdown did not occur until after he had safely won his fourth-round match in the afternoon.

"I was the maker of my own disaster," Wolstenholme said. The 43-year-old never got going in the morning rain. While Patrick Niederdrenk, the winner by 3 and 2, missed only once from inside 25 feet, Wolstenholme did not putt well and on three out of the four occasions he claimed a birdie, the German followed him into the hole.

"It is frustrating because I felt I could do well this week," Wolstenholme added. "I felt my form was as good as last year at Troon and though I haven't done well here in the past, I was beginning to enjoy playing the Old Course."

Corfield, who was second in the St Andrews Links Trophy last year, has quickly come to like the historic links, even though his first round here a couple of years ago was an 86. Yesterday he was an approximate nine under for 27 holes in winning his matches 6 and 5 in the morning and 5 and 4 in the afternoon.

His opponent in the second of those matches was Gareth Maybin, an Irishman from Ballyclare, who was felled by an errant shot from the neighbouring Eden course while about to tee-off on the 13th hole in the morning. He was hit on the back of the head but soon picked himself up. A couple of those following the match turned out to be Irish doctors who gave him the once-over but although he proceeded down the hole rubbing his head, there were no ill effects until he came up against Corfield later in the day.

Corfield, 21, has been driving the ball well enough to follow Tiger Woods' example from the 2000 Open of staying well clear of the pot bunkers. "I have been making sure I find the fairway," he said. "If you stay out of the traps, I don't think it is a very difficult course. But if you are in them, it is extremely difficult to get out of them."

Corfield now plays Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, a 23-year-old business graduate from Madrid who has already accounted for England's James Heath as well as the conquerors of Matthew Richardson and Wolstenholme. "It is not a team event so I'm not worried about the others going out but it would be nice to keep the trophy in the EGU [English Golf Union] élite squad," Corfield said.

The Welshman Nigel Edwards fought back from four-down against Francesco Molinari to level the match but lost at the last after the Italian drove the green and two-putted for a birdie. The last remaining Walker Cup player is Forfar's Stuart Wilson, whose task it is take on Molinari, a semi-finalist last year and who dismissed Glasgow's Jonathan King 7 and 5 in the fourth round.

Halliday has never represented Scotland at any level and has never had any formal coaching but has a handicap of plus-three. "Do I look like I have ever had a lesson?" he gasped. "I work full-time, golf is just a hobby."

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