Jimmy Stanger leads American charge at British Amateur

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Jimmy Stanger leads American charge at British Amateur

Amateur

Jimmy Stanger leads American charge at British Amateur

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SANDWICH, England – Virginia graduate Jimmy Stanger arrived in England for his first British Amateur Championship with no expectations. That attitude might help him become the first American winner since Drew Weaver in 2007.

Stanger, who finished his senior year at Virginia by being named a Golfweek second-team All-American, is one of three Americans through to the third round after a 4-and-3 win over France’s Antoine Moreau.

Texas Tech’s Hayden Springer defeated Welshman Evan Griffith, 4 and 2, while Ole Miss’ Josh Seiple dispatched strong English player Matthew Jordan, 2 and 1.

“I’ve been working hard on trying not to have any expectations,” Stanger said. “Just go out and trust my game’s good enough. That’s been the plan and it’s worked out so far.”

Stanger’s only previous links experience came at nearby Prince’s Golf Club on a family vacation, but he’s turned British the last few days by learning to bounce the ball along the hard fairways here in the sun-drenched South of England.

“It’s my first real tournament playing links golf and it can be confusing,” Stanger said. “It affected me the first round when I thought I played really good golf and ended up shooting 3 over par (on Royal St. George’s). I’m learning, adjusting. The key is really to stay patient and realize you’re going to have a lot of 50-foot lag putts over little hills.”

Stanger, who was invited to the U.S. Walker Cup practice session last December, managed to stay patient in his match against Moreau.

“I ended up shooting 1 under so I just made a lot of pars,” Stanger said. “I made a birdie at the second to go one up and we went back and forth from there and I managed to build on that.”

Stanger might not have expectations about this week, but he’s using this tournament and next week’s European Amateur Championship at Walton Heath as a testing ground for when he turns professional in September.

“I think coming and playing golf over here will make me a better player in the long run,” Stanger said. “It’s definitely on my mind to play in Europe. The plan is to try to play Web.com Tour in September, but if that doesn’t work out I’d really consider playing over here. It’s worked for Brooks Koepka and his brother Chase is playing over here. Peter Uihlein has had success over here, too.

“I want to continually get better, and this can only help me in the future when I come over here to play in the Open Championship.”

Seiple managed to get through to the third round without his A-game.

“Today was a grind for me, especially since I didn’t hit it particularly straight,” the rising junior admitted. “I didn’t three-putt, and I made all my 6-footers for par. What kept me in it was the 11th. He hit a 2-iron in there to 15 feet and I hit a 3-iron to 2 feet to win the hole and go two up. That was key to keeping the momentum, and I grinded it out from there.

“Today could have been easier but I’m happy to get through.”

Seiple now faces former 2012 English Amateur champion Harry Ellis, a Florida State student. Stanger takes on Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad player Paul McBride. And Springer goes up against his Texas Tech teammate, Germany’s Hurly Long.

Caolan Rafferty lived up to his top-seed status with a 5-and-3 win over Frenchman David Ravetto. Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, runner-up to Scott Gregory at Royal Porthcawl last year, is also through to the third round. He is bidding to become the first Scot since Gordon Sherry in 1995 to win after losing the previous year’s final. He would also be the first left-handed player to win the championship.

Finland’s Caspar Simberg made it through to the third round in spectacular fashion. He aced the 21st hole, the 206-yard, par-3 third, with a 3-iron to defeat South Africa’s Kyle McClatchie.

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