Nathan Kimsey leads at Scottish Stroke Play

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ENGLISHMAN Nathan Kimsey took full advantage of early benign conditions on the Solway Firth to card a superb 66 and seize the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the Carrick Neill Scottish Stroke Play Championship.

The 20-year-old Woodhall Spa member, sixth in the recent Lytham Trophy, recorded three birdies in his final five holes at Southerness to open up a two-shot gap at the top of the leaderboard from England team-mate Garrick Porteous and Irishman Richard O’Donovan.

Kimsey, the second highest ranked Englishman at No 22 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, capitalised on what he described as “perfect weather” to execute a series of excellent irons shots, which transformed an otherwise tidy score into the best of the day.

Three birdies on the front nine put the Walker Cup contender out in 33, however, a double-bogey on the 12th dropped him back to level par. A 6-iron to 18 feet on the 14th yielded his fourth birdie of the day, which was soon followed by ten-foot and tap-in birdie putts on the final two holes to move to three-under.

Leading the Scottish charge, three shots behind the leader, is Meldrum House’s Chris Robb, who opened with a solid level par 69.

St Andrews’ 17-year-old Ben Kinsley impressed with an opening 70 to join the veteran John Mathers (Haggs Castle) on one-over par, one clear of Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year Jack McDonald, who was disappointed to finish on two-over par after losing a ball in a bush on the final hole to end his round with a double-bogey.

In contrast, Scottish Boys Champion Bradley Neil holed out for an eagle at the 18th to salvage a 73 as the wind picked up for the afternoon starters, the same mark as world No 2, Australian Brady Watt.