Hutsby’s up for the Challenge despite Open frustration

Sam Hutsby. Jamega Tour. Hayling Island Golf Club. April, 2011. Picture: Rob Atkins
Sam Hutsby. Jamega Tour. Hayling Island Golf Club. April, 2011. Picture: Rob Atkins
Billy Mckenzie with the Spanish Amateur trophy. Picture: Adolfo Luna, Spanish Golf Federation

Mckenzie in dreamland after ‘unbelievable’ win

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Sam Hutsby is adopting a different approach for the remainder of the season after narrowly missing out on a place at The Open.

The Lee-on-the-Solent star missed out on the five-man play-off for the last of 10 championship spots by just one stroke after a costly bogey on his penultimate hole in the 36-hole qualifying event at Sunningdale.

Having carded a sublime five-under-par 64 in his opening round on the New Course, Hutsby attempted to protect his score in the second round on the Old Course.

But his level-par 70 left him marooned at five-under – just one stroke behind a clutch of players, who then had to play late into the evening to see who could grab the final place at Royal St George’s next month.

While Hutsby was disappointed to miss out – along with European Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie – he remained philosophical, with his game clearly coming together as he prepares to commit to the Challenge Tour for the rest of the year in a bid to regain his European Tour card.

Hutsby said: ‘I was a bit disappointed because I was in a great position after the first round.

‘Looking back, maybe I should have played more aggressively on the front nine in the second round because I was swinging it well and hitting the ball well.

‘But I played ultra safe and I think I’ve learned from that for the future.’

After finding himself two-over par after three in the first round, Hutsby found some terrific form for the remaining 15 holes as he fired six birdies and an eagle to post a 64 and lead the field.

But knowing that a 36-hole total around the six-under-par mark would be in the hunt to seal his place, the 22-year-old admits he went on the defensive.

He saw three shots disappear on the eighth and the 10th but Hutsby roared back with birdies at 11, 14 and 16, only to drop a vital stroke with a three-putt on 17.

He said: ‘I hit a nice wedge in but it spun back and left me about 30 feet away.

‘The first putt looked like it was going in and just scraped by.

‘But it left me a tricky downhill putt from about four feet that broke from left to right and I missed it.’

After his Open disappointment, Hutsby is determined to hit back this week on the Challenge Tour in Brittany.

And he has also made the decision to commit himself to the second tier of European golf for the rest of the campaign.

He said: ‘It’s been difficult because sometimes I get the call on a Tuesday and I have to organise a flight that day to play on the Thursday in the European Tour.

‘The advantage of the Challenge Tour is that I know I am in every event on the schedule and can plan things a bit better and prepare for those events.

‘There are 15-18 more tournaments left on the Challenge Tour and if I can play well in those, I can progress up the order of merit and get a top-20 place to get a European Tour card for next year.’