Poppleton quickly onto the right track in English men’s amateur

Nick Poppleton pictured after his 2016 victory in the Lee Westwood Trophy with then Masters champion Danny Willett (Picture: Driving Golf PR & Marketing).
Nick Poppleton pictured after his 2016 victory in the Lee Westwood Trophy with then Masters champion Danny Willett (Picture: Driving Golf PR & Marketing).
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WATH’S Nick Poppleton has some unfinished business where the English men’s amateur championship is concerned.

He was penalised two holes after overlooking the presence of a training club in his bag during last year’s semi-final, a handicap that effectively cost him a place in the final as he went on to lose one down.

His first task this week is to qualify for the match play stage via 36 holes of stroke play and he made an excellent start with a three-under-par 69 at Formby, which is jointly holding the event with Hesketh.

It made him one of four Yorkshire competitors to sit inside the top 10 at the end of round one along with Hallowes’ Sam Bairstow (68 at Hesketh) plus Lindrick’s Sam Rook (69 at Hesketh) and Bailey Gill (70 at Formby).

Poppleton, who earlier this season won the Brabazon Trophy – the English stroke play championship – had a flawless round with birdies at holes three, four and 11 and no dropped shots.

Bairstow opened with three birdies on the spin and had another at eight although he had bogeyed the sixth.

He had a birdie at 14 and a bogey at the last to be home in level par.

Rook had just three pars on his way to the turn, his card showing mathematical symmetry with three birdies and three bogeys.

He got back to the clubhouse in two under with the aid of three birdies in four holes from the 10th.

Gill bogeyed the final hole on the way out after picking up shots at three and seven, and sandwiched a bogey at 16 on the way in with birdies at 11 and 17.

There are two other Yorkshire players sitting inside the top 64 and ties after 18 holes, a position that will earn passage into the match play stage after two rounds. They are Middlesbrough’s James Swash, who carded a one-under-par 70 at Hesketh, and Rotherham’s Lewis Hollingworth, who shot one-over 73 around Formby.

Hallamshire’s Barclay Brown – who last week won the Carris Trophy at Fulford to become English Under-18 boys’ open champion – had a five-over 77 at Formby.

Huddersfield’s Charlotte Heath sits just outside the top 40 who will make it through to the final day of the English girls’ open amateur at East Devon after a first-round 81.

The England girls international’s card was scarred by a triple bogey and two double bogeys.

English women’s match play champion Nicola Slater, of Lindrick, has even more ground to make up following an 83.

She was four over after 11, a position that would have had her inside the top 25, but she dropped five shots in her last six holes despite birdieing the 14th.

Cookridge Hall’s Adel Watt had four birdies in her 85 and Slater’s club-mate Mia Eales-Smith just one in her 87.