IN front of the clubhouse, many of the world’s top amateur golfers practiced on the putting green and powered drives from the first tee in preparation for the challenge of Seaton Carew this week.
With the flags of England Golf flying and the giant leaderboard constructed to the right of the 18th green, the stage is set for the Brabazon Trophy’s long-awaited return.
When Welshman Zach Galliford, Leighton Buzzard’s Matt Hill and Workington’s Seb Crookall- Nixon tee off at 7am this morning, the battle for the biggest amateur strokeplay title will be under way.
Bedale’s Daniel Brown, Whickham’s James Simpson and Boldon’s Gavin Nesbit are among a small group of North-East hopefuls looking to shine in a strong international standard field.
England internationals Ashley Chesters, Jimmy Mullen and Ben Stow are among those aiming to join reigning English Men’s Open Amateur Strokeplay champion (Brabazon) Jordan Smith’s name on the prestigious trophy previously won by the likes of Charl Schwartzel and Sandy Lyle when the action ends on Saturday.
Some have travelled further afield, such as Turkey’s Florian Kolberg and South African Nicolaas Arnoldi. There are a few Frenchmen, a couple of Portuguese, Scandinavians and even an Aussie.
They have not arrived on the outskirts of Hartlepool to make up the numbers.
Terry Casey, father of Ryder Cup golfer Paul and the team manager of England’s amateur ranks, said: “I know the level of play you can expect from the Irish, the Welsh and the French, so this is a very strong field.”
Casey, having taken in the challenging links for the first time yesterday, thinks the 6,920-yard course will provide a real test.
“It was my first time on the course and from what I have seen I liked it a lot,” said Casey.
“From an England player’s perspective, you are going to have to put the ball in the right places off the tee. It’s very playable if you do that. The greens are not that quick. It’s not massive off the tee either and you can hit the greens if you hit the right tee shot.
“I would expect our guys to play well. The rough is high, but I still think there’s space out there. As long as you don’t try to get too far up on too many holes then there are good chances.”
One player Casey is keeping an eye on is Brown.
The North Yorkshire talent is making waves on the amateur circuit and his stunning strokeplay performance at the British Amateur last week earned him top spot by four shots.
Brown lost to Sean Towndrow, who is also at Seaton, in the quarter-finals at Royal Portrush, but his display helped clinch an invitation to play today.
“I only got the call this morning,” said Brown.
“I missed out at qualifying by one, despite playing well. I just missed a few putts. I have played well recently. I was here two or three years ago to play, but I don’t think I have ever played Seaton Carew when it has been this calm. I don’t think it is going to be overly windy so hopefully there should be a few good scores.
“I went to the British Amateur and played my best golf in a very long time. It feels like it is all coming together. Hopefully I can take the last week’s form out there with me and here at Seaton Carew.”
Brown tees off his first round at 11.50am with the immediate aim of making the cut after 36 holes and being in the mix for Saturday’s final day. After his performance at Royal Portrush, he is in the right frame of mind.
“I was gutted to have lost in the quarter-finals, but once you have calmed down you realise it’s been a good week. I won the strokeplay, got to the quarter- finals and that is a big achievement. That is certainly one of the best so far in my amateur career,” he said.
“There will be a few extra eyes on me here because I live locally, but I try not to put any extra pressure on myself and I just want to see how I go. It will be nice to win or have a nice finish on Saturday.”
- Entry at Seaton Carew over the next four days is free
THE BRABAZON TROPHY, FIRST ROUND DRAW, TEE TIMES
7:00 Zach Galliford (Borth & Ynyslas Golf Club), Matt Hill (Leighton Buzzard), Seb Crookall-Nixon (Workington)
7:10 Tom Bullough (Northamptonshire County), Florian Kolberg (Turkey), Harrison Greenberry (Exeter)
7:20 Jamie Bower (Meltham), Scott Gregory (Corhampton), Mark Young (Longridge)
7:30 Ben Robinson (Vale Golf & Country Club), James Simpson (Whickham), Jordan Lawrence (Sandy Lodge)
7:40 Jimmy Mullen (Royal North Devon), Jean-Michel Hall (Woburn), Tomasz Anderson (Brocket Hall)
7:50 Jordan Smith (Bowood), Joey Lamb (Wilpshire), Ryan Evans (Wellingborough)
8:00 Tom Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge), James Adams (Druids Heath), John Kemp (Woburn)
8:10 Joshua Cottrell (Ipswich), Luke Johnson (Kings Lynn), Adam Dunton (McDonald)
8:20 Nicolaas Arnoldi (South Africa), Sean Towndrow (Southport & Ainsdale), 8:20 Thomas Rowland (Prudhoe)
8:30 Dean Homewood (Addington Palace), Richard James (Aberystwyth), Kit Holmes (Hunstanton)
8:40 Paul Waring (Felixstowe Ferry), George Bloor (Cavendish), Jack Cardy (Ipswich)
8:50 Ciaran Doherty (Bury), Dermot McElroy (Ballymena), Freddie Sheridan-(Mills Walsall)
9:10 Luke Aston (Beau Desert), David Langley (Castle Royle), Will Smith (Stoneleigh Deer Park)
9:20 Michael Bullen (Worthing), Calum Hill (Tantallon) , Joshua Munn (New Zealand)
9:30 Lee Shepherd (Sherwood Forest), , Jamie Dick (Forest Hills) Corey Sheppard (High Post)
9:40 Bradley Thomas (Foxhills), Edgar Catherine (France), Ben Amor (Marlborough)
9:50 Joris Etlin (France), Gordon Stevenson (Whitecraigs), Michael Lawrence (Sundridge Park)
10:00 Leo Mathard (France), David Houlding (Moortown), Jonathan (Grey Hever Castle)
10:10 Ragnar Gardarsson (Iceland), Hole Augustin (France), Jonas Thomsen (Denmark)
10:20 Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park), Daniel Young (Craigie Hill), Paul Howard (Southport & Ainsdale)
10:30 Jake Phillips (Cotswold Hills), Sam Edwards (Bigbury), Matt Kippen (Enmore Park)
10:40 Craig Melding (Neath), Jordan Boulton (Notts), Gary Hurley (West Waterford)
10:50 Gavin Nesbit (Boldon), Steven Robins (Hull), William Aldred (Brocket Hall)
11:10 Haydn McCullen (Delamere) , Arron Wright (Enville), Daniel Wasteney (Lindrick)
11:20 Bobby Keeble (Crowlands Heath), Jamie Boler (Notts) , Ewen Ferguson (Bearsden)
11:30 Scott Gibson (Southerness), Will Robson (Bellingham), Conor Syme (Dumfries)
11:40 Robert Burlison (Oxley Park), Cameron Murry (Ramsdale Park), Oscar Granstrom-Livesey (Royal Mid-Surrey)
11:50 Paul McBride (Island), Daniel Brown (Bedale), Nick Watson (Stoke Rochford)
12:00 Taylor Hutton (Foxhills), James McCormick (Styal), Craig Smith (Pike Hills)
12:10 Stephen East (Moortown), Iain Mackay (Wentworth), Victor Veyret (France)
12:20 Marcus Mohr (Bromborough), Tom Fox (China Fleet), Daniel Holland (Ireland)
12:30 Tom Hamson (Horsley Lodge) James Reeson (Brampton Park), Andrew Schonewille (Australia), 12: 40 Scott Borrowman (Dollar), Sam Whitehead (Woburn), Ian Kenwright (Haydock)
12:50 Lee Jones Conwy (Caernarvonshire), Rhys Pugh (Vale of Glamorgan), Alexander Culverwell (Dunbar)
13:10 James Allan (Chelmsford), Harry Casey (Enfield), Keiron Fowler (Wells)
13:20 Luke Spooner (Sundridge Park) , Jack Bush (Morlais Castle), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore)
13:30 Matthew Moseley (Carmarthen), Alex Dixon (City of Newcastle), Victor Trehet (France)
13:40 Robin Dawson (Faithlegg), Jack Hume (Naas), Ben Stow (Rushmore)
13:50 James Dobbs (Ross-on-Wye), Pierre Mazier (France), Alastair Jones (Radyr)
14:00 Adam Chapman (Windermere), David Ravetto (France), Robert Clayton (Cold Ashby)
14:10 Liam Cox (Burhill), Cormac Sharvin (Ireland), Afonso Girao (Portugal)
14:20 Paul Kinnear (Formby), Ben Taylor (Walton Heath), Matthew Hogg (Rushcliffe)
14:30 Goncalo Costa (Portugal), Jordan Wrisdale (Boston), Ben Best (Rathmore),
14:40 Billy McKenzie (Rowlands Castle), William Whiteoak (Shipley), Sam Claypole (Horsley Lodge)
14:50 Richard Mansell (Beau Desert), Craig Ross (Kirkhill), Michael Saunders (Dartford)
15:00 Nick Marsh (Huddersfield), Sebastian Mork Andersen (Norway), Gavin Moynihan (The Island)
15:10 Mathias Schjolberg (Norway), Freddie Price (Royal Blackheath), Matthew Alden (West Middlesex)
15:20 Tom Gandy (Rowany), Cameron Massey (Wallasey) , 15:20 Jacob Tinsley (East Devon)
15:30 Alister Balcombe (Clevedon), Greig Marchbank (Thornhill), Thomas Lawton (Wilmslow)
15:40 Daniel Garner (Romford), Will Rushworth (Pannal), David Boote (Walton Heath).