GARETH Hastie romped into top place in the BGA Championship qualifiers at Chorley Golf Club on Saturday with a superb four under par two-round total of 138 (70 – 68).
Shooting for a fifth BGA title Hastie's opening salvo suggests he means business.
Hot favourite, Hastie was two shots clear of the field with his Bolton club-mate Mark Millhouse and Turton’s Liam Ball hot on his heels when they shared a 140 scoreline. Millhouse carded a 71-69 while Ball produced a 70-70.
Matt Buckley of Old Links is once again one of the top qualifiers with a 141 (72 – 69).
His recent championship form has been exceptional having reached the semi-finals in 2012 and 2013, and was runner-up to Andy Palmer in the 2011 final. Perhaps this may be his year but he will first have to overcome Bolton’s Tim Cooper (141) in the quarter-finals.
Hastie will meet Breightmet’s Nigel Hunter in the first knockout round on Tuesday. Hunter, who has been a long standing top golfer in the Bolton area, claimed eighth qualifying spot with his 143 (73 - 70).
Another Bolton member, Josh Ashton, finished in sixth place with a 141 (70 – 71) and will meet Liam Ball in the quarter-finals.
Young Matthew Smith of Turton claimed seventh place in the matchplay stages with a 142 (72 – 70) and will line up against Millhouse.
The Bolton Golf Club quartet of Hastie, Millhouse, Cooper and Ashton won the four-man team event for the George Bell Trophy for the second year running.
Championship chairman Clive Hastie said “This has been one of the best starts to our championship with wall to wall sunshine and a truly excellent course. I am sure Chorley will be proud of their efforts.”
Quarter final line-up: (Tuesday, starting at 4.50pm) Gareth Hastie v Nigel Hunter, Mark Millhouse v Matthew Smith, Lam Ball v Josh Ashton, Matt Buckley v Tim Cooper.