Scott Gregory believes a poor round that secured his place at The Open final qualifying will stand him in good stead for this week’s Brabazon Trophy.
The 19-year-old from Waterlooville scrambled his way to a two-under-par 70 at East Sussex National earlier this week, while Rowlands Castle’s Billy Mckenzie also sailed through at the same venue with a fine three-under-par 69.
Lee-on-the-Solent professional James Ablett shot a level-par 72 at Remedy Oak and came through a six-man play-off for five remaining spots at the first extra hole.
Although he bogeyed the final two holes, the left-hander had kept his cool knowing a level-par effort should be good enough to get him through.
Ablett said: ‘I thought I’d make it difficut for myself but I was pleased to get through.’
The trio will now face a final showdown at either Woburn or Sunningdale on Tuesday where three places at Hoylake will be up for grabs at both courses.
But dreams of competing at The Open are on hold for both Gregory and Mckenzie as they chase glory in the English amateur strokeplay championship at Seaton Carew, starting today.
And Gregory believes some fine-tuning on his long game could pay dividends after finding his magic touch around the greens at East Sussex.
He said: ‘I was like Seve around the greens – it was unbelievable. I just kept getting up and down from everywhere.
‘I missed eight straight greens and didn’t drop a shot. It’s boosted my confidence because it told me I can hit it poorly and still stay in contention.’
Mckenzie, meanwhile, dropped just one stroke to steer clear of trouble. He said: ‘I will be looking to take that steadiness into this week.
‘I’m trying to make the cut as my first goal and then take it from there.’
Hampshire stars have won the Brabazon in three of the past four years – with 2010 winner Darren Wright succeeded by Neil Raymond in 2011 and 2012.
Gregory said: ‘I would love to follow in their footsteps.
‘If I hit it a little bit better than I did at East Sussex and keep everything else ticking over, I shouldn’t be far off.
‘I spoke to my coach, Simon Andrews, to try to straighten out my driving.
‘I told him I was hitting it sideways and he gave me a couple of things to work on and I’m feeling more confident.’