BRADLEY Neil, the title favourite, and three other seeds are still standing but they should all be wary of Barry Hume heading into penultimate day of the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship at Downfield.
Thirteen years after winning the Scottish Golf Union’s flagship event at the same venue, the 32-year-old Glaswegian is closing in on the title once again after beating Connor Syme, a semi-finalist in the Amateur Championship in June, to book a spot in the last eight. “I dug into the archives and pulled out a performance as that was my best display so far,” declared Hume, who was five-under-par for the holes played in beating the Dumfries & County teenager 4 and 3.
A decade ago, Hume was the man in Neil’s shoes as the Haggs Castle player found himself being tipped as Scottish golf’s next big thing. After turning professional, he played twice in The Open Championship but was unable to make ends meet in the paid ranks and returned to the amateur game. He now runs a company that offers football scholarships in America and that has been “keeping me busy” in between rounds in Dundee. “I don’t know a lot of the lads I’ve come up against – and they probably don’t know me either,” he said. “I knew Connor was a good player, though.”
He achieved that and also enjoyed the odd break, such as seeing his recovery from a greenside bunker at the eighth hit the top of the flag and drop to ten feet, holing the putt to go two up. “That was a psychological boost for me and the opposite for him,” admitted Hume.
Can he go and win this event again in the City of Discovery? “That would be a big shock to everyone,” insisted the Haggs Castle man, who now meets Euan Walker from Kilmarnock (Barassie). “It’s not in my thoughts; I’m just enjoying the journey.”
Neil, the Amateur champion, recovered from two down at the turn in the morning to beat his Blairgowrie clubmate, Glenn Campbell, before sparking some low scoring in the afternoon. Helped by eagles at the 11th and 13th, the 18-year-old was seven-under in triumphing 4&3 against Williamwood’s Fraser Davren.
Standing between Neil and a place in the semi-finals is St Andrews New member Josh Jamieson, who has used some short-game tips from Luke Donald to make impressive progress this week. The 20-year-old is halfway through a scholarship at Northwestern University in Chicago, the alma mater of former world No 1 Donald, who returns on a frequent basis to either see Pat Goss, his long-time coach, or practise. “Luke, who lives 20 minutes off campus, is a really helpful and nice guy,” admitted the 2011 Scottish Boys’ Stroke-Play champion. “You only need to watch his short game to learn something and that’s one area of my game that has definitely improved.”
While “loving” life in the Windy City now, Jamieson’s stay there would probably have been short-lived if it hadn’t been for David Inglis, the former British Boys’ champion from Glencorse who is the assistant coach to Goss. “I’d never been to the US before and I struggled when I first went out,” he recalled. “David took me under his wing and helped me through that. He has been amazing.”
As Neil was joined in the quarter-finals by fellow seeds Jack McDonald (Kilmarnock Barassie), Graeme Robertson (Glenbervie) and Grant Forrest (Craigielaw), the standard of golf produced was phenomenal in just about every match in the fifth round.
McDonald, the 2013 Scottish Order of Merit winner, went birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle from 11th as he recovered from being two down at the turn to win on the home green against the battling Cameron Buist (Glenbervie).
Robertson, a 2012 Eisenhower Trophy team member, covered the last six holes he played in accounting for Kilmacolm’s Matt Clark in an astonishing seven-under, the match-winning burst being sparked by an eagle at the 11th that was followed by five straight birdies. Forrest, the winner at Royal Dornoch two years ago and semi-finalist last season, shared 11 birdies and two eagles with Craig Ross as he secured revenge on the Kirkhill player.
“It was always going to be a tough match as Craig has been playing well,” said the 21-year-old from Craigielaw after a 2 and 1 success. “I also had some memories I wanted to banish because he beat me 7&6 when I was defending the Scottish Boys’ title at Dunbar in 2011.”
Forrest now meets Scotland team-mate Robertson while McDonald is up against Meldrum House man Chris Robb, who has yet to play the last three holes. “I don’t want to find out what they’re like until the final,” he said, smiling.
B Neil (Blairgowrie) bt F Davren (Williamwood) 4 and 3
J Jamieson (St Andrews New) bt K McClung (Wigtownshire County) 2 and 1
J McDonald (Barassie) bt C Buist (Glenbervie) one hole
C Robb (Meldrum House) bt B Ferguson (The Vines) 5 and 4
B Hume (Haggs Castle) bt C Syme (Dumfries & County) 4 and 3
E Walker (Barassie) bt D Hendry (Emirates) 5 and 4
G Robertson (Glenbervie) bt M Clark (Kilmacolm) 4 and 2
G Forrest (Craigielaw) bt C Ross (Kirkhill) 2 and 1