Hutsby bags share of lead

Sam Hutsby’s bag tells the story as he shot a shot a second round 63 to share the halfway lead at the Andalucian Open.

Little Sam Hutsby took a giant step forward in his European Tour career on Friday with a brilliant seven under par 63 at the Andalucian Open in Malaga.
The 21-year-old from Hampshire, ranked a lowly 491st in the world, shares the halfway lead on 10 under par with South African Louis Oosthuizen, runner-up to Welshman Rhys Davies in Morocco last Sunday.
Hutsby, just 5ft 8in, could easily have been preparing for The Masters rather than playing in Spain this week.
He reached the final of the British Amateur last June before losing to 16-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, who in two weeks’ time will become the youngest player ever to appear at Augusta.
Hutsby would have had to stay amateur to take up that opportunity if he had won that day, but instead he turned professional after the Walker Cup in September and finished second at the Tour qualifying school only two months later.
Now he goes into the weekend alongside Oosthuizen, who matched his 63 and needs to win on Sunday to have a chance of climbing into the world’s top 50 in time for The Masters.
Hutsby said: “I woke up quite a few times in the night, have a sore throat and am really bunged up, but that round has made me feel better.”
It matched the new Parador course record set earlier in the day by fellow Tour rookie James Morrison – his effort contained a mere 19 putts – but less than an hour later Paul Waring, another of the English contingent, lowered the mark by one.
Hutsby’s 63 was achieved with that very number on his ball, wedges and bag.
That had been stamped on because it was the low round of his career, so it was rather convenient for the manufacturers that he did not chip in on the last.
Hutsby has already made his mark in his brief in the paid ranks.
He led the Castello Masters, another of the Spanish events, last October, when he pitched in for an eagle at the first hole of the final round before eventually finishing joint eighth.
That got him into the following week’s Singapore Open and against a truly star-studded field – Ian Poulter was the winner and Adam Scott joint third – he tied for 14th along with, among others, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.
“Results bounce off each other and I’d shown I can really compete with these guys,” he said.
The money from those two events was over £60,000, but not enough to save him from a trip to the Tour qualifying school.
That is a real nail-biting marathon, but Hutsby – only 5ft 8in tall – breezed through in second place to underline his potential.
In fact, his biggest scare was not at the course, but at his hotel.
“I’d parked my car on the seafront after the second round and next morning it had gone,” he said.
“A security guy told us that it had been towed away and so we ran to the police station about a mile away, signed some papers and got it back.”
Oosthuizen, four times a runner-up on the circuit without ever winning, even had a double bogey six in his round, but there was also an eagle and seven birdies.