Amen Corner comes to Royal Cromer

2022 PGA Assistants Championship at Royal Cromer Golf Club. Cromer's assistant, Mitch Smith. Picture

Cromer's assistant Mitch Smith tees off at the PGA Assistants Championship at Royal Cromer Golf Club - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The equivalent of Augusta’s Amen Corner at Royal Cromer where cards are wrecked, and dreams of green jacket glory dashed came a little later in the first round of the PGA Assistants’ Championship.

Several players, including James Walker, Alister Balcombe and Jamie Clare, looked set for challenging sub-par scores, but foundered in the section of the scenically stunning portion of the course over which a lighthouse stands sentry.

Holes 15, 16 and 17 took their toll, but Dan Lloyd of Wales bucked the trend with a three-under-par round of 69.

Where his rivals to end the day leading the chase for the £5,000 winner’s cheque stumbled, the year one trainee attached to Carden Park, Cheshire, remained upright.

There was one blip – a bogey at the par-four 15th but atonement in the guise of a birdie at 16 was immediate.

“I hit the front of the green on 15, followed up with a terrible chip and made bogey,” the 25-year-old explained. “Then I had a good up and down on 16 to make birdie.

“Luckily, I managed to keep it together towards the end – I was happy with the finish as there are some tough holes there.

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“The burnt fairways and undulations were challenging but our courses at home in Cheshire are quite similar at the moment. They’re also quite tight like this, as well."

Despite the trials and tribulations that befell other contenders looking to add their name to a list of winners that includes Tony Jacklin and Peter Alliss, Lloyd’s lead is a slender one.

Patrick Ruff and Walker are a shot adrift and a sextet that includes Balcombe are locked on one-under.

And, having posted opening rounds of two and three-over respectively, former European Tour player Kenneth Ferrie and defending champion Michael Farrier-Twist are far from being lost causes.

Craig Butler, of Sprowston Manor, shot four over, Dylan Green (Norfolk Premier Golf) finished five under, and Royal Cromer's Mitch Smith shot seven over. Ethan Roberts (Swaffham) shot eight over while Polly Norman, from KIng's Lynn, finished on 19 over.