SEATON Carew has been the setting for three days of fascinating golf – and it isn’t over yet.
The best amateur golfers in the business have been showing their quality at the Brabazon Trophy at the Tees Road links.
When the two overnight leaders teed off yesterday, the competition looked like being a two-horse race between England colleagues Ben Stow and Ryan Evans.
Stow had begun with rounds of 69 and 68. Driving the ball a long way, the 23-year-old, from Dorset, had only had one bogey on his card in two days.
Evans, meanwhile, had hit the ball superbly on day one but not sunk any putts yet on Thursday, he equalled the course record with a 66.
But yesterday was a different story as both men carded three-over-par 75s to allow the chasing pack to close the gap.
While both international players bemoaned changing conditions as a factor, tension seemed to affect them in an intriguing closing stretch.
Both birdied the par five 14th to head to the par three Cosy Corner hole.
Evans, with the honour, played to within eight feet while Stow found the fringe of the green.
But while Evans went just short with his birdie attempt, Stow ended up three putting to take a shock bogey.
It did not seem to affect him – while Evans found the rough twice on the par four 16th, Stow was comfortably up at the green in two.
Stow made a good attempt at birdie while his playing partner did well to escape with just a bogey.
Both players rolled in par putts on the devilish 17th green.
The final hole served up some great drama.
Evans, who held a one-stroke lead coming down the 18th, was on the green comfortably in two.
However, Stow, played a stunning approach shot onto the green to set up a four-putter for birdie.
It was then Evans turn to struggle on the green, three-putting from 25 feet.
But the USA-based Stow missed his little downhill putt to the left and his par meant he finished all square on 75 with his England colleague and friend to maintain their share of the lead on a seven-under par 212, albeit now in the company of Cormac Sharvin.
“I was disappointed with a three-putt,” Evans told SpotrtMail. “I’d left my wedge short and I gave myself a tricky first putt.
“I don’t think it was tension.
“It was a bit of a struggle out there – for the first seven holes it was windy and dry so the greens were very fast and shiny.
“But when the rain set in they still looked fast but they slowed up – me and Ben both struggled to get the ball to the hole.
“It’s hard to get your mind to say the green are slowing up when they look lightning fast.”
Evans remained in top spot but is well aware the field has bunched up.
“It is going to be an interesting day,” said the 27-year-old, who tees off at 11.38am with Northern Ireland prospect Sharvin, whose two-under-par 70 brought him level with the English stars.
“I haven’t lost my place but the others have gained ground.
“If you look at the top 15 they all have a chance to win it.
“I know I can play well because I played well on the second day.
“I don’t mind going out last – in fact I enjoy playing in front of a bit of a crowd.”
Stow will play in the penultimate group with Scotland’s Craig Ross who recorded a back-to-back 70 to make it to seven under par.
Like Evans, Stow said he was frustrated by his round.
“I played so well the first two days it was a bit weird not hitting it perfectly in the third round,” he said.
“It was a bit of a rough day and I didn’t hit enough fairways but I kept my round going and I’m still top.
“Me and Ryan didn’t play well.
“When it started raining it slowed the course down and it took a long time adjusting.
“It’s hard having to do that in mid-round.
“I had a bit of a bad day and did a lot of things poorly but I’m still in the tournament.
“Even if I was five shots in front I’d still have to go out and play well to win. The mindset is the same now, go out and play my game. I know it’s good enough.”
212 Cormac Sharvin (Ireland), Ryan Evans (Wellingborough), Ben Stow (Rushmore)
213 Craig Ross (Kirkhill), Michael Saunders (Dartford), Gavin Moynihan (Island), Scott Gibson (Southerness), Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone), Daniel Young (Craigie Hill)
214 Harry Casey (Enfield), Paul Kinnear (Formby), Adam Chapman (Windermere), Ciaran Doherty (Bury)