Connor Syme finishes birdie-birdie to boost hopes of making Open cut

Connor Syme lines up a putt on the 10th green at Royal Birkdale. Picture Ian Rutherford
Connor Syme lines up a putt on the 10th green at Royal Birkdale. Picture Ian Rutherford
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The finish to Connor Syme’s first round in a major was better than the start. It wasn’t ideal, after all, that he was announced as “Sim” by the starter, David Lancaster.

”It happens quite a lot and that’s the common one I get,” said a smiling Syme afterwards. “He asked me as well how my name was pronounced and I told him, but he obviously forgot.”

To his credit, the 22-year-old Fifer put that unfortunate episode straight out of his mind, enabling him to hit a good opening drive in the company of former champion John Daly before getting his name on the leaderboard after following five straight pars with a birdie-3 at the fifth.

Out in level-par after a bogey at the difficult sixth, it became a bit of a struggle for the Drumoig player, but he partly repaired the damage caused by double-bogeys at the 11th and 16th with a brilliant birdie-birdie finish for a three-over 73, beating Daly by a shot.

“I had a disappointing little run of golf through the middle but, apart from that, it was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed it,” said Syme. “I definitely felt the nerves a bit on the first tee. I felt nervous walking around and then you get to the tee and you think, ‘this is what you practise for’. It was class, the entrance I got to go on there. And then I hit a good shot and made a good par and that settled me down quite a lot.”

Bidding to emulate the amateur dramatics of both Justin Rose (1998) and Chris Wood (2008) here in the past, Syme heads into the second round sitting second among five amateurs. England’s Alfie Plant took pride of place with a 71, eclipsing the efforts from Luca Cianchetti (75), compatriot Harry Ellis (77) and American Maverick McNealy (78). “I didn’t really have a target when I went out there. My goal is to try to make the cut and I’ve had a good finish there with birdie, birdie to give me a chance tomorrow,” added Syme, who is bidding to become the first Scot since Lloyd Saltman in 2005 to win the Silver Medal.

Asked about the colourful Daly, he replied: “He’s very funny. Adam [Bland] was nice, too, so that definitely helped. The whole spirit of the group was very relaxed.”