Royal North Devon’s Jimmy Mullen leads the amateur field by two shots from Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick after the opening day at The Open.
Mullen shot a level par 71 on the first day in challenging dry conditions over the East Lothian links layout. Four birdies in the opening nine holes left the 19-year-old two under through the turn, but a double bogey at the 10th followed by further bogeys at 11 and 18 prevented the youngster from posting an under par score.
Mullen qualified for the tournament after winning the local final qualifying event at North Berwick, seeing off an experienced field which included the likes of 2010 Ryder Cup captain and former European Tour star Colin Montgomerie.
He would have been joined at the top of the amateur table by Fitzpatrick but for a disappointing closing hole for the Hallamshire player. The 18-year-old hit a wayward approach into the 18th green, and failed to make the resulting bogey putt to finish with a disappointing double to end the day two over par.
Matt Fitzpatrick: "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my day despite the score of two over. It’s not too bad and there are a lot worse places to be!" Nevertheless, the youngest player in the field was left smiling following his first taste of major championship golf. Commenting on his round, Fitzpatrick said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my day despite the score of two over. It’s not too bad and there are a lot worse places to be!”
Scotland’s Grant Forrest also matched Fitzpatrick’s score and finished at +2 for the day. “ I had a great time. It was really tough out there, but I’d like to thank Mark [O’Meara] and Marcus [Fraser], who made it enjoyable and made me feel comfortable out there,” he said.
The day did not prove as fruitful for newly crowned English Amateur Champion Garrick Porteous, who shot 76 for a round of five over par. Fellow Englishman Ben Stowe also shot a 76, and the only US Amateur in the field, Steven Fox, ended the day on +7.
However, the worst round of the day came from Wales’ Rhys Pugh, who finished bottom of the field on +13. The high score came largely from a quadruple bogey at the 16th followed by a double bogey at the 17th in a back seven holes which included no score better than bogey.
Amateur leader board after the opening day
Jimmy Mullen (Eng): Level
Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng): +2
Grant Forrest (Sco): +2
Ben Stowe (Eng): +5
Garrick Porteous (Eng): +5
Steven Fox (USA): +7
Rhys Pugh (Wal): +13