Wall blocked in English Amateur quest

Hayling Golf Club's Ben Wall lost to Matthew Fitzpatrick in the opening round of the matchplay competition at the English Amateur Championships at Frilford Heath
Hayling Golf Club's Ben Wall lost to Matthew Fitzpatrick in the opening round of the matchplay competition at the English Amateur Championships at Frilford Heath

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Ben Wall revealed he was pleased with his English Amateur Championship efforts, despite being knocked out in the first round of the matchplay phase.

The 19-year-old Hayling amateur produced a sensational finish to his second round at Frilford Heath, shooting five-under par for his last six holes to qualify one stroke inside the strokeplay mark at one-under par.

That saw the Hampshire colt paired with one of the leading qualifiers, Matthew Fitzpatrick, who won the Silver Medal as the leading amateur at The Open recently.

And despite a tight battle against the England man, who stood alongside champion Phil Mickelson at Muirfield at the presentation ceremony, Wall eventually went down 2&1 to fall at the first matchplay hurdle.

‘I can’t be too disappointed – he (Fitzpatrick) was doing really well at The Open last week,’ said Wall.

‘I didn’t fear him. It’s matchplay and anyone can beat anyone on the day. You can only lose one hole at a time.

‘It was a good match and I was one-up through 11 holes but he fought back and I had a few bad holes at 12, 13 and 14.

‘He took advantage of that and I tried to get it back but he just held me off.

‘I will take plenty of positives out of the experience and hopefully I will get more chances to play in the future.

‘My main goal was to make the cut and then to see what happened after that.

‘But it was a good week overall.’

Wall pointed to a tweak in his putting style as he suddenly found his form on the greens at the heathland course near Oxford.

He said: ‘In the second round, I was four-over par playing the 14th so I was delighted to get back to one under.

‘I had been hitting the ball well but I hadn’t holed anything so I switched my putting grip and I started holing a few putts.

‘It didn’t quite work out for me in the matchplay but I have to remember that I beat a lot of good players to get into the top 64.’

Rowlands Castle’s Billy Mckenzie fell at the same stage as Wall after a sudden-death defeat at the 19th hole to Nick Watson.

Mckenzie qualifed in 28th place with scores of 72 and a brilliant 69 for a three-under par total.

But although he led by one hole at the midway point, he was unable to hang on for the win.

The rest of the Hampshire contingent failed to make it through to the matchplay phase.

Defending champion, Harry Ellis from Meon Valley, finished nine shots adrift after struggling with his game in qualifying.

He knew he had his work cut out after an opening 79. And although he improved with a second round 74, it was still too many to give him a chance of defending the crown he won so memorably 12 months ago.

Corhampton’s Neil Raymond also failed to find his best form as he posted a three-over-par total – a score that Jamie Mist, from Hayling, also posted.

Scott Gregory, of Corhampton, ended up on seven-over par after rounds of 75 and 76, while Remi Cake, of Meon Valley, saw his hopes go up in smoke after rounds of 77 and 78 for a total of 11-over par.