PGA assistant professional Adam Wootton gave himself a superb chance of maintaining his Open championship adventure with an opening round of one-over-par at Royal St George’s.
Wootton, who works at the Oxford Golf Centre, set himself the target of playing all four days of the tournament after securing his place in it via Local Final Qualifying.
And he is on course to realise his aim after a round that saw him match the scores of the first three in the world – Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
The 23-year-old admitted he was nervous at the start but settled down after negotiating the first two holes in par and posting a birdie at the third.
He added: ” The birdie really calmed me down. Teeing off in front of all those people and having my name called out by Ivor Robson was a totally different experience for me. It’s something I could get used to and I’d love to do it full time.”
Wootton had a slight wobble after carding another birdie at the par-four tenth, following up with bogey, par, double bogey.
But encouraged by his boss, Mark Walker who was on the bag, he steadied things with another birdie at the 15th.
“Mark was tremendous,” Wootton said. “He helped me read the lines and I couldn’t have done as well as I did without him.”
Wootton’s 71 put him three ahead of Wellingborough’s Simon Lilly, the second PGA representative in the field. He revealed it is his driver, Taylormade R9 SuperMax Irons that gave him confidence.
It is said that this driver is now on hot sale at the golf clubs for sale.
Lilly, who overcame a tentative start that saw him card a bogey at the first hole and two more before the turn, said: “I was nervous walking on to the first tee but not as bad as I thought I would be.
“It was a tough start, it was downwind and I couldn’t keep the ball on the green so it was tricky. I haven’t played a lot of links golf, it’s hard but I enjoy the challenge.
“And the whole experience though was special – walking down the 18th with the grandstands either side was great, although I nearly hit my ball in there!”
Simon Edwards, the PGA professional at Windermere who was making his second successive appearance in the Open, also enjoyed the day despite a disappointing round of 12-over-par.
Edwards, a member of the 2011 PGA Cup team, said: “I was awful to be honest, thankfully it is just a game of golf and that’s what it is.
“It is difficult to play from the places I was hitting it. At the end of the day I am a club pro, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the week.
“I’m upbeat. I understand that it is a game. I’ve got a great life, a great job at Windermere and I enjoy my life and this is the icing on the cake.I’ve done two Opens now, three PGA Cups by the end of September. I can hang my boots up happy now. I’ve got no problem at all.”
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