Local hero Jamie Moul produced a magnificent first round performance at his home club – the Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa – to soar into an eight under par lead after the opening round of the €160,000 English Challenge.
With a healthy crowd following his progress around the Gainsborough course at Stoke by Nayland, the former Amateur World Number One and Walker Cup team mate of Rory McIlroy didn’t disappoint with a wonderful display of golf that saw him form a one stroke lead over compatriots Phil Golding and Jamie Little, with England’s Matthew Baldwin, Italy’s Federico Colombo and the French duo of François Delamontagne and Victor Rui sharing fourth place on six under par.
It was Moul, though, who stole the show, putting together nine birdies and just a single dropped shot in his brilliant 64.
"I played really good today,” smiled the 26 year old. “I am delighted with the start, especially after last year when I missed the cut by a couple of shots. I have tried not to pay too much attention to all the focus being on me this year because playing at your home course is a tough thing to do.
“I had one good round in the Europro Tour event last year but apart from that I have never really played that well in competition around here. People assume that it is going to be easy for you but it is a very specific kind of pressure that you are put under so it was very pleasing to get the first round out of the way.
“To be leading is a nice bonus as well – I can just go home now and put my feet up and let everyone else get excited about it!”
While Moul was hoping to temper the wave of local excitement surrounding his outstanding first round, his fellow countrymen Little and Golding were more than happy to talk up their own fine opening efforts.
Both men carded seven under par 65s, before revealing their surprise at a sudden upsurge in form and fortune. Little was struggling with his form last week but a visit to his long term coach, coupled with a victory in the Tesco Charity Pro-Am on Monday gave the 33 year old a well-timed confidence boost that he took full advantage of at Stoke by Nayland.
“I have played five Challenge Tour events this year and missed five cuts quite comfortably,” said Little. “I was playing poorly and the confidence was way down so I went to see my long term coach last week for the first time in a year and we have managed to find something in the swing that is getting a lot better. Winning the Tesco Pro-am was a big confidence boost too so hopefully I have turned the corner.”
Golding, the former French Open champion, used all of his experience to prepare himself for round one.
“I actually didn’t play a practice round this week because I wasn’t feeling great and have done that in the past. I walked the course and had a really good look which can help a lot at times because you tend to see it more strategically that you do when you are playing a full round and concentrating on your ball you don’t actually see much of the course.
“My form has been up and down but I did win recently at the Paris International Open in May and it is amazing how much a win does for your confidence. I have always said that a win is a win no matter what level you are playing at and that has certainly helped me along.”