The home fires are still burning. On a day that produced a few surprises, two of the event favourites – Blairgowrie pair Bradley Neil and Glenn Campbell – progressed to the second round of the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship.
With 256 hopefuls seeking to emulate the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Stephen Gallacher and Dean Robertson by claiming title glory in Perthshire, Blairgowrie would love to crown a home champion at their first- ever staging of the SGU’s flagship event.
Campbell started proceedings at 6.45am against Greg Telfer from Prestwick St Cuthbert and had to draw on all his local knowledge to emerge victorious.
The 40-year-old, a member at Blairgowrie for over three decades, found himself two down after the opening three holes, not helped by a pulled drive at the par-5 opening hole of the Lansdowne Course.
But the 2005 champion dug deep and stayed on course for a round four clash with defending champion Grant Forrest after earning a 4&3 win.
“I’m looking to have a good run and hopefully local knowledge will help,” said Campbell, who reeled off hole wins at 5, 7, 8 and 10 to turn the tide. “The course is in as good a condition as I’ve seen it in a long time – it’s fantastic.”
Campbell, who has fellow Blairgowrie member and SGU Boys Selectors Chairman Barrie Douglas on the bag this week, added: “Five Blairgowrie players started the event, so hopefully some of us can go far in the tournament. It’s good for the local interest and for our members.”
Neil was among the later starters on a busy opening day of 74 ties, coming through 3&1 against Grant Minnes of Kirkintilloch. “It was far from my A-game,” said Neil. “There is a lot of pressure and expectation on me this week and I just have to relax.” Bradley’s older brother, Connor, is in action today.
Forrest, meanwhile, fresh from playing the Open at Muirfield, was comfortable in a 4&3 win over Lanark’s Jamie Lamb.
“My game is feeling pretty good and I’ll just take things one shot at a time,” said the 20-year-old, who played with Mark O’Meara at the Open after coming through local final qualifying. “I had loads of chances but didn’t hole too many.”
Elsewhere, Paul Lawrie’s son Craig edged a tight battle with another Blairgowrie player, Nick Barr, to progress at the 19th. “It was the only time I was ahead in the whole match,” said the Deeside youngster.
However, last year’s beaten finalist, Richard Docherty from Bearsden, exited at the first hurdle to David Donaldson of Bruntsfield Links, losing a terrific match at the 24th.