Hinton defeats world No. 5 Huizing at Royal Troon
Troon, Scotland – Craig Hinton couldn’t cut it in division two of college golf, but he’s made a big noise here at Royal Troon.
Hinton knocked out world number five Daan Huizing to record the biggest shock of the opening matches in the head to head stages of the 117th Amateur Championship.
Huizing is ranked number five on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, the highest ranked player here at Royal Troon.
At least he was.
The Dutchman prepared for this Amateur Championship with runaway victories in the Lytham and St Andrews Links Trophies. He won the former by 11 shots and the latter by 14.
He was the man to beat.
Hinton was in good form coming into the championship, but nowhere near Huizing’s standard. The 23-year-old Englishman finished 13th in the Lytham Trophy, won the Welsh Stroke Play Championship, and was fourth in the St Andrews Links.
He qualified for last year’s Open Championship, but had never qualified for the match play rounds in four previous attempts in the Amateur.
Nevertheless, Hinton was one up playing the last after chipping in for birdie at 17. He didn’t get up and down from the left of the green and lost the hole to a par. Off they went down the first hole in sudden death.
Hinton hit 5-iron off the tee and a wedge second to three feet. He holed the putt to shock a sizeable gallery following the match.
“He’s a great player but it’s match play so anyone can beat anyone,” Hinton said. “I knew if I played well on my day I could beat him. There’s no point putting him on a pedestal.”
The plus four handicapper took the college route three years ago, but didn’t last long. “I went to Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky and didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t get along with the coach, and it was division two so the standard wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be.”
There was a bit of culture shock, too. That usually happens when you go from one of the world’s largest cities to the more sedate state of Kentucky.
“I went from living in the middle of London to the middle of nowhere, so it was hard to adjust.”
Hinton is now in the England elite squad, but will try for his European Tour card at the end of the year. Unless, of course, he wins this week. In which case, he might keep his amateur status to play in this year’s Open Championship and next year’s Masters, the rewards for winning the Amateur.
Two American players join Hinton in the last 32. Auburn’s Will McCurdy won both his matches to make it to the third round. He defeated Italy’s Giulio Castagnara in the first round and then hammered number-two seed Geoff Drakeford of Australia 8&7.
UC Davis player Tyler Raber also had to survive two matches. He advanced to round two by defeating New Zealand’s Ben Campbell at the 20th hole, and then outlasted Frenchman Joel Stalter by one hole.
Stalter threw a hole-in-one at Raber when he aced the 125-yard, par-3, 8th hole, the Postage Stamp. However, Raber hung on to win down the last.
“I red shirted this year so I haven’t played a lot of competitive golf,” Raber said. “I wanted to get my summer off on the right foot and decided to come here.
“I came over in 2008 and played St Andrews, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and Western Gailes so I was prepared for this golf course. My only expectations were to get into the match play stages and see what happens. It’s match play and anything can happen so I’m happy to be in the next round.”
Sweden’s Daniel Jennevret suffered the amateur curse when he lost his opening match by one hole to former British Boys’ champion Emilio Cuartero of Spain. Jennevret qualified as top seed after finishing leading medallist on 136, 6 under par. The Texas Christian player is the ninth player out of the last 14 medallists to lose his first match.
Nathan Kimsey suffered no repercussions of a one shot penalty in his second qualifying round. The Englishman defeated Ireland’s Richard O’Donovan 2&1 after picking up a penalty shot for two bad times at Royal Troon the day before.
Notables through to the last 32, round three, include University of Florida player Kevin Phelan. He defeated University of Texas player Kramer Hickok 4&3. Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup players Alan Dunbar and Rhys Pugh also made it into the last 32. Dunbar beat Spain’s Borja Virto by one hole, while Pugh defeated Argentina’ Franco Romero 4&2.