Rotherham's Schmidt high among first-day leaders in McGregor Trophy

ROTHERHAM'S Ben Schmidt lies in fourth place after round one as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of former US Open champion Justin Rose by winning the McGregor Trophy.

Schmidt carded a one-under-par 71 to be two off the lead as the English under-16 boys’ open got underway at Kedleston Park.

He was out in two under with the aid of three birdies and had two more coming home, but they were outnumbered by four bogeys.

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Cookridge Hall’s Nathan Ali shot a three-over 75. He birdied the first and seventh to reach the turn in level par and a solitary birdie at 13 on the way home was sandwiched by two pairs of bogeys, at 10 and 11 and 15 and 16.

The Oaks’ Jake Sowden is one stroke further back on 76. He amassed 14 pars, but birdies eluded him all day.

The McGregor Trophy is always a hugely popular event and this year was heavily over-subscribed, with an entry of 200 players for 144 places.

Those with handicaps of 2.9 and better were accepted, while players with handicaps up to 3.6 went on to a reserve list and the others were balloted out.

The final field includes competitors from 14 countries.

Kedleston Park was one of this year’s regional qualifying courses for the Open Championship. A mature parkland course, it is set within the grounds of Kedleston Hall, an 18th century mansion.

The championship continues on Wednesday then the leading 40 competitors and ties qualify to play the final 36 holes on Thursday.