If Saturday’s 18-hole qualifier on the whole followed the expected script, yesterday’s first round of knockout matches did anything but.
In this format and with the strength of the pairings who progressed into the quarter-finals, nothing should have been taken for granted, but the form book from the strokeplay went straight out of the window once the matchplay got under way yesterday as the top three seeds all fell.
Pleasingly, the up-and-coming youngsters in Dave Jeffery’s Island squad did much of the damage as the reputations of their more established colleagues meant very little.
On Saturday, the two Dannys – Bisson and Blondel – topped the qualifying comfortably with 34 Stableford points and when Blondel holed out for an eagle at the first in the first quarter-final out on the course a little more than 15 hours later, few would have bet against them reaching the semi-finals.
However, Roland Mills and Rory McKenna had other ideas.
Having only just scraped into the knockout stages, the role of underdogs suited them down to the ground with the junior turning in an impressively solid performance – just the type you need in alternate-shot golf – while his partner’s putter warmed up considerably from the afternoon before.
They were 2 up on the L’Ancresse pair through seven holes and although the Dannys birdied the eighth to briefly halve the deficit, it was back to two by the turn.
Mills and McKenna then took full control of the match with back-to-back wins on 12 and 13, with Mills holing a 25ft birdie putt on the latter to move 4 up.
But there was plenty of drama still to come.
Bisson and Blondel birdied the long 14th to get a hole back then Bisson sent a booming drive miles down the 15th from where his partner stuck his approach just 3ft from the pin.
Their opponents were in a spot of trouble in the rough on the left-hand side above the green from where Mills hacked out and left McKenna with an awkward 12ft downhill par putt.
In classic matchplay style, the youngster trickled it down the slope and into the cup before Bisson’s short birdie attempt lipped out.
The eighth seeds then closed out the match at the 16th.
They will now face Jeremy Nicolle and Jake Marshall, who held their nerve to come out on top of the only quarter-final to go the distance.
There was very little to choose throughout their encounter with Tom Le Huray and Dale Rutledge, which was all-square as they reached the 17th tee.
With Le Huray leaving his partner at the bottom of the hill, close to the out of bounds, Nicolle took the brave decision to hit driver and it looked as if it would pay off as he finished past the left-hand green-side bunker.
However, he and Marshall could only make par from that prime position and their opponents managed to scramble a half.
Le Huray and Rutledge were unable to repeat the feat on the last, though, where they failed to get up-and-down from the left of the green and Nicolle and Marshall’s par was good enough.
In the bottom half of the draw, both quarter-finals were surprisingly one-sided affairs.
Tom Pattimore and Garry McFarlane had been excellent on Saturday afternoon, starting their qualifying campaign with nine straight pars, but they were unable to carry that form through to the knockout where CJ Elmy and Daniel Griggs eased to a comfortable 6 & 4 victory.
However, the pair they will meet in the semis, Arthur Evans and Ollie Chedhomme, went one better as an outstanding performance saw them need just 13 holes to beat Island duo Steve Mahy and Jamie Blondel.