Shropshire amateur Ashley Chesters has some unfinished business at the Open Championship, despite the fact that this week’s trip to St Andrews is only his second appearance in the UK’s only major.
Having finished the first round at Hoylake with a two-under 70, things looked good for the then-24-year-old golfer to make the weekend.
But a sluggish start to his round on the Friday, in which he bogeyed six of his first eight holes, saw him agonisingly miss the cut by one shot.
However, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes News, Chesters is positive in reflection ahead of his second crack at the tournament.
“It was a shame that I had such a bad front nine on the second day, but you have to take the positives out of it. It shows that I wasn’t actually that far behind some of the best players in the world, and while it was frustrating to miss the cut, especially by one shot, it was nice to know that I wasn’t far away at all.”
England’s number one amateur could potentially have been paired with Tiger Woods in the third round on Merseyside had he been one shot better.
A grouping with either Woods, or Sergio Garcia, a favourite of Chesters, would have been a dream, but he’s focused on going out there and simply playing his own game alongside Harris English and Andy Sullivan, a player he knows all too well from meetings on the amateur circuit.
“Our psychologists always tell us you can’t control what everyone else does, you just go out and try and play well. Wherever playing well puts you is where you end up, whether that means making the cut or not, there’s not really a lot else you can do”.
The only player to defend the European Amateur Championship, he spoke of his trepidation before last year’s tournament. And while he states he is feeling fine a year on, a few nerves ahead of such a big tournament is all part of the game for Chesters.
Some players may find the added numbers around the greens a distraction, or a cause for more anxiety, but it is something that makes this tournament stand out:
“The crowds that I usually come across in amateur tournaments are nothing like the ones you come across at The Open. Last year when I was holing a few putts and the cheers that I was getting from the crowds was one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole experience”.
His form ahead of the tournament has been solid, with the Hawkestone Park representative stating he’s been performing “a little better” coming into The Open this year.
A solid fourth place as part of the England team at the European Team Championships in Sweden and an good showing in the Amateur Championship at Carnoustie which takes in a mix of match and stroke play saw Chesters finish an overall eighth.
Some players will be getting their first taste of the idyllic home of golf at St Andrews, but the relative youngster is very familiar with the Old Course.
“I’ve probably played St Andrews 10 or 15 times before. I’m not a big hitter, but my driving accuracy and putting are my strengths. With the fairways fairly generous, my driving probably won’t hand me too much of an advantage, but hopefully my putting will.
“That being said, there are all sorts of valleys and things that you have to be aware of and avoiding those will be key, so my accuracy could come into play”.
A 5/1 third-favourite to take the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur, this could be the last time that Chesters mixes with the pros as a rookie.
He’s eyeing up a spot in September’s Walker Cup team, a tournament described as a Ryder Cup for amateurs, and should the selectors come calling, he could look to turn professional at the end of the year.
But first on his agenda are matters at St Andrews. And while he may be a 2000/1 shot for victory, he will be determined to leave the Fife course with his name firmly etched on golf fans minds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.