Nairn’s Andrew Burgess birdied the last to beat top seed Connor Syme in a thrilling semi-final clash in the Scottish Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen this afternoon.
The pair shared 13 birdies at the 2014 Scottish Open venue, where 21-year-old Burgess held his nerve to hole a five-footer for a 3 after Syme, having been bunkered off the tee, had rolled in a 12-foot par putt.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” admitted Burgess, who was balloted out of the Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship on +1.5 at Gullane earlier in the year.
“I’ve not played golf like that for a long time and the little 7-iron I hit from 175 yards at the last was up with my best.”
Burgess was round in approximately 67 and Syme 68 as the pair served up a top-quality content over the magnificent Balgownie Links.
Syme, the world No 30, responded to falling behind for the first time in the match - possibly the first time all week - after 13 holes by winning both the 14th and 15th, holing a 30-foot birdie putt at the latter.
But Burgess, who has his older brother Sean, a first-round loser, caddying for him, squared matters with a par at the 16th, where his opponent three-putted from long range, then secured his victory in style with that birdie at the last.
There, Syme, who’d seen a five-foot birdie putt lip out at the 17th, got a bit unlucky when his tee-shot with a driving iron hit a downslope and ended up in a bunker.
“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” admitted Burgess, who has completed two years of a golf scholarship at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia.
“I’ve played well all week, to be honest. I won the club championship at Nairn in May and I’ve been hitting the ball well and knew if I could get the putter going this week it would be good.”
Syme, who was bidding to add this title to his Australian Amateur Championship win earlier in year, was disappointed but certainly not downhearted.
“I was really happy with the way I played, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be,” said tyhe 21-year-old Drumoig player. “Fair play to Andrew for making a birdie at the last - that was clutch - and I hope he goes on to win it now.”
Burgess now meets fellow unranked player George Duncan in the 36-hole title showdown after the Windyhill 21-year-old beat Elderslie’s Alasdair McDougall at the second extra hole.
“I’m shocked to be in the final as I’ve rode my luck a bit this week and it was no different in this match,” admitted Duncan after McDougall, who’d knocked out defending champion Robert MacIntyre earlier in the day, finished bogey-bogey after being one up with two to play.
Duncan, who is on a golf scholarship at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennesse, admitted he’d got lucky at the 20th when a wayward drive found a grass cart path, from where he was able to make a par-5 as McDougall three-putted for a bogey.
“I’ll see if I can ride my luck one more time tomorrow,” added Duncan, who admitted that the two players left standing were both “surprise finalists”.
Andrew Burgess (Nairn) bt Jeff Wright (Forres) 2&1
Connor Syme (Drumoig) bt Craig Howie (Peebles) two holes
Alasdair McDougall (Elderslie) bt Robert MacIntyre (Glencruitten) 4&3
George Duncan (Windyhill) bt Malcolm Pennycott (Royal Burgess) one hole
Burgess beat Syme one hole
Duncan beat McDougall at 20th