Walker sets the pace after heeding first round experience

Walker sets the pace after heeding first round experience


James Walker put the lessons he learned in the first round of the Coca Cola PGA Assistants’ Championship to good use by leading the tournament at the end of the second.

Walker, the son of PGA Master Professional, Graham, appeared on course to top the leaderboard on day one when he was six-under after negotiating 11 holes at Royal Cromer Golf Cup.

But like several of his rivals chasing the £5,000 first prize he foundered over the challenging course’s closing holes and posted a two-under par round of 70.

In a classic example of ‘once bitten, twice shy,’ the former England amateur international did not follow suit on day two, however.

All of which resulted in a four-under par round of 68 that leaves him six-under for the tournament and a shot clear of the 144-strong field.

“I hit it a lot better than yesterday,” reflected the 28-year-old who represents the Oaks Golf Club, York.

“I struggled on the back nine but hit it solid today, middle of green, two putts.

“It was a little breezier today, which shouldn’t help you but it helped in the respect you can hit short clubs off tees and you know you don’t have to hit it so close to the greens. A bit of course management helped as well.”

In contrast to Walker, it was more of the same for Dan Lloyd, the first round leader. In another exhibition of solid golf with few mishaps, the Welshman who represents Carden Park, Cheshire, is on five-under after a two-under round of 70.

That puts him two shots clear of Sam Forgan and Patrick Ruff and three ahead of Paul Kinnear and Ethan Hurst (above), the Canadian who experienced a spectacular upturn in fortunes after beginning the day on four-over.

Not only was his six-under par round of 66 the best of the tournament thus far, it is also a course record.

The previous record set by Zimbabwean Nick Price also stood at 66 but was achieved over a shorter course and before four holes were altered.

Commenting on his unexpected achievement, he said: “I didn’t think I’d be doing that today but I’m happy with the result. I holed a lot of putts and hit a lot of fairways.”

Hurst was similarly surprised at his achievement given his unfamiliarity with links golf.

“I’m from Toronto and we don’t have courses like this over there,” explained the 24-year-old who is attached to Alyth Golf Club in Scotland.

“I’ve been here for three years and am becoming a big fan of them, especially after this.”

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