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Luke Donald crashes out of English Amateur

Luke Donald, the top player in American college golf this year and favourite to make the Walker Cup team, crashed out of the English Amateur Championship at the second round stage at St Mellion.

The 21-year-old from Buckinghamshire fell three and one to Essex champion Ricky Blaxill - a tie that brought a flood of birdies.

Although both players bogeyed the par-four first, holes were swapped with almost monotonous regularity and they were still all square after 10.

But Blaxill, from Wanstead, won the short 11th with a par then birdied the 12th and 13th to go three up.

Donald then birdied 14 to reduce the deficit but a Blaxill birdie at the par-four 17th was enough to secure victory.

``Luke didn't play his best golf but he putted well,'' said Blaxill, who eagled the 20th hole in the first round to put out Stuart Davis.

But this is a big blow to Donald who came into the Championship as firm favourite.

Another shock was served up by Wolverhampton's Andrew Smith, the former Doug Sanders World Junior champion, who beat former boy international David Griffiths three and two.

Smith was two down after three but won the fourth, fifth and sixth to go one up and increased it to two at the ninth.

Griffiths battled back to square the tie on the 13th but Smith was not to be denied, taking three successive holes from the 14th, two with pars, to round it off.

``Winning the Doug Sanders last year did a lot for me,'' said Smith, ``but I had my clubs stolen in April and it took me two months to get another set that suited me.

``I'm taking up a scholarship in America in two weeks and it was the University of South East Louisiana who got them for me.

``When David drew level after 13 I felt the match would go to the last but I didn't expect him to give me the holes he did.''

Another seed to fall was newly appointed England boys captain Nick Dougherty, who went out three and one to Yorkshireman Paul Thomas.

A putting lesson from Yorkshire colleague, Ben Mason, last night proved the key to Thomas's success.

``I was struggling a bit on these fast greens and I got the putts when I needed them,'' said Thomas.

The West Bradford motor mechanic admitted he knew little about Dougherty but five birdies was enough to provide yet another second round shock.