Belt pushed back to third despite equalling record

amazing round: Alex Belt takes a look at the leaderboard after his first round of 63 at Ramsey on the Isle of Man.
amazing round: Alex Belt takes a look at the leaderboard after his first round of 63 at Ramsey on the Isle of Man.
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Bridlington’s Alex Belt broke the Ramsey course record on the first day of the Manx Classic, but it was still not enough to bring home the trophy

After changing his putter, he carded a seven-under-par 63 and the Europro Tour professional thought he’d broken the record on the final hole when his 15-foot birdie attempt agonisingly lipped out.

“It looked in all the way,” he rued, but was more than happy to match the mark set by fellow Yorkshireman Robert Wragg 13 years ago as he led by two shots from Danny Wardrop after day one, in an event he only entered on the last minute.

“I left it late but I’m pleased I made the right decision,” said Belt, after racking up nine birdies in a round containing an economical 25 putts, eight below his average.

“I was getting more and more frustrated on the greens and my mindset was such that I did not expect to hole anything. I slipped a new Zen putter into the bag before I set off for the Isle of Man and it did the trick.”

Belt, who won a Europro Tour fixture at Collingtree Park three months ago, identified his birdie at the tough seventh hole as crucial in the final analysis.

“That gave me a lot of confidence,” said the 28-year-old, attached Snainton Golf Centre and the De Vere Club, who is part-way through a swing change under the tutelage of Wynyard-based Andrew Nicholson, a European Tour and England Golf coach.

“It’s work in progress,” he added as he sets his sights on clearing the European Tour School second qualifying stage in November.

But he couldn’t repeat his record-equalling exploits in Saturday’s second round. He slumped to a five-over par 75, which was only gopod enough to give him a share of third, four shots behind the leaders.

David Shacklady and James Barr were tied on six-under after 36 holes and Shacklady took the honours on the second extra play-off hole.

Barr’s 63 meant he joined Belt as joint record-holder for the course and he missed a golden chance to eclipse Belt’s effort the previous day when his wedge shot at the par-three final hole, almost hit the flag and then he missed a four-foot putt for birdie.

Scores: (Par 70): 134 David Shacklady (Mossock Hall) 68 66, James Barr (Chilli Dip Academy) 71 63; 138 David Wilcock (Dean Wood), Alex Belt (Snainton Golf Centre/De Vere) 63 75, Daniel Wardrop (Didsbury) 65 73;