Smith on the record trail to take title

Eaton's Jamie Smith hit sizzling form to win a Surrey order of merit event, playing 36 holes in eight under par and setting a course record.

Smith, who trains at Jon Baker-Odlin's academy at Sprowston Manor, shot five-under-par 64 in the first round of the open meeting at North Downs, near Caterham. He followed up with 66 and declared himself, 'well chuffed'.

A few days earlier he equalled the Eaton course record of 66 and in the space of a week impressively converted his handicap from one to plus-one, his lowest level to date. The North Downs event proved to be a highly competitive affair. Smith actually shares the new record with another player who also returned a first round 64. 'I thought I would be in the lead when I came in – but I won by three in the end.

'It was the best golf I have ever played, by far,' added the county player, who had a total of 13 birdies during the day. His putter was in great shape and he notably holed a 40-footer for birdie on the last hole of the first round.

Smith continued in the same vein in the afternoon, with birdies on the first two holes. 'I didn't get defensive, I just went out and tried to do exactly the same thing again,' he said.

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He puts his success down to two factors: experience in national events and his training programme.

'I entered a couple of national events this year and although I didn't perform well in them I picked up plenty of tips from better players, particularly about the mental side and playing different shots.'

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Smith, who spends eight hours a day working on his game, added: I couldn't have done it without the Sprowston academy, it's been great.'

He is coached by the club's head professional, Guy Ireson, and supported on the mental approach by county captain Baker-Odlin.

• Almost 60 players will contest the 36-hole Norfolk handicap championship tomorrow at Costessey Park Golf Club. The host club is fielding 17 of the competitors including David Ives who, off four, is the lowest handicapper in the field. Handicaps range up to 14.

• Royal Cromer's Amber Ractliffe made her Great Britain & Ireland debut in the inaugural U16 girls match against the Continent of Europe at Royal Porthcawl. The visitors were convincing winners.

• Bawburgh's Jane Winsworth was pipped in the EWGA Volvo Grand Medal Final at Droitwich. The 16-handicapper shot 73 on a testing day (CSS 73 reduction only), but just missed out on the sixth and last prize on countback. Ryston Park's Tiffany Mills was also in the field.

• For the third year in a row a junior girl has won the president's cup at The Norfolk. This year it was the turn of teenager Emma Dann, who scored 44 points to win the junior section, ahead of Matthew Strudwick, and the overall trophy.

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