DOING his physiotherapist proud after she’d effectively told him to man-up over a pulled rib muscle, top seed Greig Marchbank played through the pain to record one of the biggest opening-day wins in the Paul Lawrie Foundation Scottish Boys Championship at Murcar Links.
While the tournament host’s son, Craig, made an early exit in one of the morning tussles on the north-east coast, Marchbank, who reached the quarter-finals 12 months ago and then went on to top the SGU Boys’ Order of Merit last year, progressed by sweeping aside Balmore’s Jack McKenna’s 7 and 6.
The comfortable victory helped ease the pain Marchbank has felt since the 17-year-old hurt himself during a practice session for this event, the untimely injury preventing him from hitting any shots on Sunday and still causing him to rein back a bit when the gun went off.
“I felt it go when I hit a shot a bit fat on Saturday and it’s still sore,” he said. “I didn’t want to pull out and I think [physiotherapist] Karen Young was telling me to man up when she said I should put ice on it.”
McKenna, whose brother, Fraser, won the Scottish Champion of Champions at Leven on Sunday, probably knew it wasn’t his day after three-putting the third to lose that to a double-bogey in cold and breezy conditions on the outskirts of Aberdeen.
“That hole apart, it was pretty solid stuff,” added Marchbank. “I was having to swing it easy and that probably helped as this is a course where you have to plot your way around.”
Having reached the third round on his debut at Dunbar a year ago, young Lawrie teed off with high hopes but, unfortunately for the 16-year-old from Deeside, his hopes had been extinguished before his dad had made it back home from The Masters.
“I played terrible,” said the sixth-year Robert Gordon’s College pupil after a 5 and 4 defeat at the hands of Liberton’s Scott Finlay, who admitted he’d felt nervous on the first tee due to the identity of his opponent but soon settled into his game after winning the opening two holes.
Lawrie, who got it back to one before hitting his approach out of bounds at the ninth, handled the disappointment with aplomb and certainly has the attributes to carve out a career in the game, revealing he’s secured a conditional place on a golf management course at the University of the Highlands and Islands starting in September 2013.
“I’d prefer to be playing, but if I don’t make it I would like to be involved in golf,” added the scratch player, who was set to join his mum and dad back at the course today to watch his younger brother, Michael, make his debut in the event after the 13-year-old came off the reserve list at the weekend.
When David Wilson claimed the crown in East Lothian a year ago, he recovered from being eight down at one point in the final to beat Liam Johnston. Yesterday, the Troon Welbeck player had the tables turned on him but squeezed through at the 19th after losing the last two holes in a great tussle with Alisdair McDougall, the St Andrews New player who finished third in the team event at the Dunhill Links last year.
“I was in control for 16 holes then lost my concentration, forgetting what I was doing,” said Wilson of pulling two shots into the gorse at the 17th then finding a couple of bunkers at the last. The Ayrshireman was smiling again, though, after draining a 45-foot birdie putt to come through at the 19th.
On a day when the two back-markers, Cawder’s Jamie Savage and James Steven from Bothwell Castle, also progressed along with another highly rated pair – Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neill and Ben Kinsley of St Andrews – Edinburgh exile Robert Reynolds coped with a drastic change in weather conditions to make a winning start in the event.
Reynolds, who turns 18 today, is originally from Loanhead but moved with his family about six years ago to Cyprus, where the temperature was 20 degrees and rising when he left last week. “I’m the lowest junior in Cyprus by quite a bit,” said the four-handicapper, who has been the under-18 champion at his home club, Aphrodite Hills, for the last two years.