9am Round-Up: David Drysdale off to good start in Australia

Solid start for Scots golfer David Drysdale. Picture: Greg Macvean
Solid start for Scots golfer David Drysdale. Picture: Greg Macvean
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David Drysdale’s good memories from Lake Karrinyup Country Club in Australia helped the Scot make a promising start in the ISPS Handa Perth International today.

The 40-year-old carded a three-under-par 69 (35-34) to sit joint-10th in the clubhouse, three shots behind joint-leaders Romain Wattel from France and India’s Shiv Kapur.

Drysdale’s last visit to the same venue saw the Cockburnspath man pull off one of the best performances of his career when his back was against the wall.

He holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the last green in this event at the end of the 2014 season to hang on to his card by climbing from 116th to 103rd in the Race to Dubai.

“I’m hoping I can re-create that week,” he admitted on the eve of this year’s tournament. “Holing that putt on the 18th was very special and I’m looking forward to playing this course again.

“It’s in pristine condition and is what I’d describe as a proper golf course with fast greens. Hopefully it suits my eye again.”

It certainly did in the first round as Drysdale, bouncing back from missed cuts in the Tshwane Open and Maybank Championship, fired five birdies, including three in a row from the 11th.

“It was a decent start,” declared Drysdale, refusing to get carried away. “I putted nicely and hit a few good ones that could easily have gone in but didn’t.

“I made a poor bogey at the secind, but it’s a long tough hole. However, I got up and down twice to make good pars to so, overal, I’m pretty happy with three-under.

“The greens are fast and that suits my game so much better than last week, when I really stuggled on the greens in Kuala Lumpur. I’m feeling a lot more confident with the putter!”

Fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher had been equally hopeful that the Alastair MacKenzie-designed layout would help bring out the best in him.

But the 41-year-old struggled to a five-over-par 77, having gone out in level before limping home in 41, dropping four shots in four holes to start his back nine then taking a bogey at the ninth, his last.

Wattel, who won the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Gailes Links in 2010, posted his lowest round of the season to share the clubhouse lead with Kapur.

The Frenchman, who has finished in the top 30 in the Race to Dubai in each of his five seasons on The European Tour, signed for eight birdies.

Kapur, who lost to Richie Ramsay in a play-off when the Scot recorded his maiden European Tour win in the 2010 South African Open, had a flawless six-birdie effort.

Four players were sitting on 68, including rookie Irish pro Cormac Sharvin. The former Stirling University star made the best start of his fledgling career thanks to a card that contained seven birdies.

Afternoon starter Jamie McLeary, the third Scot in the field this week, was out in two-over 38 after starting with eight pars before running up a double-bogey 6 at the 18th, his ninth.

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Kylie Walker backed up her strong Australian Women’s Open performance last week by getting off to a promising start in the RACV Ladies Masters at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast.

The two-time LET winner posted a three-under-par 70 to sit in a share of tenth, three shots behind co-leaders Brooke Henderson from Canada, Dane Nicole Broch Larsen and France’s Marion Ricordeau.

Walker, who was in the top 10 at one point in the third round in the Australian Open before finishing 20th in a world-class field, was one-over with 10 to play before transforming her day.

She birdied the ninth and 12th before making an eagle-3 at the 15th - her third eagle in five rounds after managing two in the opening two days in Adelaide last week.

It wasn’t such a good day for the other Scots in the field as they all found themselves sitting below the projected cut line.

Sally Watson’s 76 left her sitting joint-78th while Pamela Pretswell and Heather MacRae are in a group in 97th after matching 77s.

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The Renaissance Club in East Lothian is to take over from Gailes Links in Ayrshire as the Scottish venue for Open Championship Final Qualifying in 2018.

The first set of changes since Final Qualifying was split into regions rather than being held at courses close to the venue for that year’s event also sees Hollinwell in Nottinghamshire, Prince’s in Kent and St Annes Old Links in Lancashire become new hosts for the two-round shoot-out.

They will replace the three current English venues - Woburn, Royal Cinque Ports and Hillside - and, like The Renaissance Club, will stage Final Qualifying for four years through until 2021.

Among those who secured their places at Final Qualifying last year were two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, Irishman Paul Dunne, who, of course, then led the Claret Jug joust at St Andrews after the third round, and American Jordan Niebrugge, who went on win the Silver Medal as the leading amateur in joint-sixth position.

“Final Qualifying is a hugely important part of The Open Qualifying Series and provides a gripping spectacle as leading Tour players compete with club professionals and elite amateurs for places in the Championship,” said Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at the R&A.

“The success that Jordan and Paul enjoyed last year shows just what is possible for those who qualify and gives players a huge incentive to follow in their footsteps.

“We very much appreciate the support we have received at the current Final Qualifying courses and look forward to moving on to four outstanding new venues in 2018.”

The Renaissance Club, which opened in 2008 and has since seen improvements made to the course by Tom Doak, lost out to Gullane when the European Tour was looking for a venue for last year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

However, this is the second time it has been selected by the R&A, having already been chosen to jointly stage the stroke-play qualifying for this year’s Boys’ Amateur Championship at neighbouring Muirfield.

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Tributes have been paid to Elliot Rowan, one of Scotland’s foremost golf coaches, who died in hospital on Tuesday in his mid-80s.

Rowan played his amateur golf at Clydebank & District before serving his PGA training under John Jacobs at Sandy Lodge in Hertfordshire.

His other attachements including clubs in both Germany and the Netherlands, Billingham in Teesside and Douglas Park in Bearsden.

He held coaching posts with the Scottish Golf Union and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association at different times before becoming involved in the golf programme at St Leonards School in his native St Andrews.

“Elliot was the first real coach I ever had,” said Callum Macaulay, who first worked with him at the age of 14 before going on to become Scottish Amateur champion and also part of the first Scottish side to win the Eisenhower Trophy.

“He was a lovely guy and even in the latter stages of his life, he would still stand and watch me hit balls whenever I was in St Andrews. He is a big loss to the Scottish golfing world.”

Reflecting on his career after he became involved in the St Leonards programme, Rowan said: “During my years teaching golf I have found one of the most satisfying aspects is to watch the enthusiasm of the young golfers as they progress in competence and ability.”