England’s Nick Marsh shapes as the likely men’s Australian Amateur Championship medallist after a second consecutive 68 in Sydney today.
But while the likeable lad from Leeds sits clear at -8 after the morning rounds of the second day of strokeplay, a host of Aussies are snapping at his heels, including national squad members Ryan Ruffels and Cam Davis.
Marsh poured in a 10m eagle bomb on the 14th of The Australian Golf Club this morning to put a hefty downpayment on being the No.1 seed when the matchplay phase of the title begins tomorrow.
And that’s something for which the Huddersfield ace cannot wait having won the English Amateur title last year in the same format, going through six rounds of head-to-head battle to triumph.
“In matchplay you’ve got to make birdies … so I tried to do that today to be ready for tomorrow,” Marsh said.
“I played all right, drove the ball much better and hit it quite close on the front nine. It was a steady round.
“It shows I’m in good form, but you never know in matchplay – I’m really looking forward to it.”
Marsh, who has been paired with Ruffels for the first two rounds, said the young Victorian had “helped him on” to his good score.
But the 16-year-old, who charged home with three birdies in his final five holes, joked there would be no favours come the knockout phase.
“I knew I needed a few late to catch Nick, but didn’t quite make it,” Ruffels said.
“But I’m probably glad I didn’t because I would have jinxed myself having knocked out the No.1 seed last year (Ryan Evans) when I was (seeded) 64th.
“So it’s a bit better than that this year.”
Ruffels remarkably didn’t hit a green in regulation until the 7th, but made a 30m birdie putt from the fringe on the first hole.
“I just somehow scrambled to keep it together, then I found some rhythm (around the turn) then a slip-up on 13 (when his approach buried in sand), but I found it again late, so I’m happy with that score.”
Sydneysider Davis, the recent Victorian Amateur champion, is growing in confidence every time he pegs it up.
“I’m getting used to (being around the mark),” the modest Davis said.
“I definitely feel like I’m getting better and feeling more comfortable, so hopefully I’ll keep it going.”
Davis fired a super-impressive 67 with no bogeys and without making any putts of note, highlighting just how impressive his ball-striking has become.
At The Lakes, Singaporean Johnson Poh backed up his opening 70 with an impressive 68 to be six under and outright fourth after the morning groups.
Victorians Lukas Michel (68) and Ben Eccles (71) finished at -4 overall, but got there in very different ways with the latter at one stage leading after an early surge.
Eccles, of Torquay Sands, endured four bogeys during his round, yet is clearly a dark horse for the matchplay with his ability to make a mountain of birdies.
The round of the morning belonged to Ben Stow, whose 65 left him at three under overall.
The Englishman began brightly with birdie, but made a bogey on the second and a double on the third to appear likely headed home early after his opening 76.
But he then peeled off nine more birdies to put that flight on hold, closing with a birdie for a back-nine 30 to leave himself inside the top 10.
Another big mover early on day two was Queenslander Charlie Pilon who fired a 68 at The Lakes, including the event’s first hole-in-one.
Pilon, of Keperra Country Golf Club, rifled a 130m nine-iron right on the money on the par-three ninth hole for his third career ace.
But his first competitive ace vaulted him into a tie for eighthat three under overall.
The top 64 men in the 234-strong field after today’s second round will advance to the matchplay phase beginning at The Australian tomorrow.
Live scores: http://www.golf.org.au/australian-amateur