Ole Miss' Josh Seiple among 3 Americans to reach match play at British Amateur

Ole Miss' Josh Seiple among 3 Americans to reach match play at British Amateur

Amateur

Ole Miss' Josh Seiple among 3 Americans to reach match play at British Amateur

SANDWICH, England – Ole Miss player Josh Seiple intends to inject some red, white and blue into the 122nd British Amateur Championship. He’s hoping to become the first American in 10 years to win golf’s oldest national amateur championship.

“I came here to compete and to try to hold the trophy at the end of the week,” Seiple said.

The rising junior made an important first step by qualifying for match play, which begins Wednesday. A 5-under-par 67 at Prince’s Golf Club to open the 36-hole qualifying helped, especially since it was his first taste of links golf.

“I was 6 under for my first seven holes and thinking, ‘I love this sort of golf,’ ” Seiple said.

Seiple got a truer taste of seaside golf in Round 2 with a 2-over 72 at Royal St George’s, venue for the match-play stages. The Castle Rock, Colo. resident played the front nine of the 14-time British Open venue in 4-over 39 before making two birdies on the inward half to qualify for the knockout stages with much to spare. His 3-under 139 total was two shots inside the cut line, and tied him for 23rd place.

Not bad on his British debut. Seiple wanted to enter last year’s championship, but a hip injury hampered his world ranking and he couldn’t get into the field.

“It was tougher today because of the wind, but I managed to get it round,” Seiple said. “It’s an awesome tournament and a lot of fun because I’ve never played links golf before. It’s helped keep me more focused more than back in the U.S. because there are so many more factors involved – the wind for one, and there’s bunkers that are 360 yards off the tee and you’re worried about finding one with a 3-wood.

“It keeps you on your toes because you can hit more shots and you’ve got to be a lot more creative.”

Seiple is bidding to become the event’s first American winner since Drew Weaver defeated Tim Stewart, 2 and 1, at Royal Lytham in 2007.

Compatriot Jimmy Stanger also shot 139 after a 6-under 66 at Prince’s. He arguably has more motivation to win this week. He’s just finished his senior year at Virginia and is in the running for a Walker Cup spot.

Texas Tech’s Hayden Springer also made the match-play stage. He qualified with a 2-under 140.

Ireland’s Caolan Rafferty enters the match play rounds as the number one seed after a 10-under-par 62 at Prince’s to go with a level par 70 at St George’s for a 132 total. Rafferty was on 11-under after 17 holes and on course to tie the Amateur Championship low score set by Richard Finch at Pyle & Kenfig, Wales, in 2002. Rafferty found a bunker on the 18th hole and made bogey, but set a new Prince’s course record.

Italy’s Alberto Castagnara finished as the second leading qualifier with a 9-under 133 after a 65 at Prince’s and 68 at Royal St. George’s. The 19-year-old is currently ranked 794th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. His best finish this year is 28th in the French Amateur Championship. Even he was surprised to be at the top of the leaderboard.

“I couldn’t believe that I’ve played that good,” Castagnara admitted. “I think today I played even better than yesterday. I just missed a lot of putts but still I made two under so that’s incredible. It’s unbelievable to be here.”

Castagnara is hoping to emulate 2009 champion Matteo Manassero and become the second Italian winner since the championship began in 1885.

The cut fell at 1 under and 77 players qualified for the match play.

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