Round-up: Lothians claim top spot in Area Team qualifying

Connor Syme helped Fife finish third after carding two five-under-par rounds at Dalmahoy

Connor Syme helped Fife finish third after carding two five-under-par rounds at Dalmahoy

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Lothians, the record 13-time winners but without a title triumph since 2007, qualified in top spot for the quarter-finals of the Scottish Area Team Championship at Dalmahoy.

Bidding to claim the crown for the first time since a format change, the hosts finished six shots clear of second-placed North-East after posting a 13-under total over two rounds at the Kirknewton venue.

Fife finished seven shots further back in third while defending champions Ayrshire, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross and North were the other qualifiers. Renfrewshire, the 2014 winners, suffered a shock early exit.

Contrary to what might have been expected, Lothians didn’t need to rely on Euan McIntosh, the newly-crowned Scottish 
Golfer of the Year, to progress as top seeds. While he certainly contributed with a 141, Stuart McLaren led the way with 135 while Calum Hill and Lee Morgan backed him up strongly with matching 138 aggregates. For North-East, who claimed victory in the first event under the current format six years ago, Barrie Edmond’s spadework, finishing on 136, helped ensure their smooth progress.

The best individual performance of the day, though, came from Fife’s Connor Syme, left, who carded five-under-par efforts on both the East and West Courses. His morning 68 included an eagle and five birdies, with seven birdies going on the card in an afternoon 63. Perth & Kinross stalwart Glenn Campbell beat that by three shots, going out in 28.

Lothians take on North in the last eight, Ayrshire face Glasgow, North East are up against Perth & Kinross while Fife tackle Lanarkshire.

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Peter Whiteford’s joint-lowest round of the season catapulted the Fifer into contention at the halfway stage in the Challenge Tour’s Cordon Golf Open in France.

The 36-year-old, who is languishing in 113th position in the Road to Oman, carded a flawless five-under 65 to move to eight-under, three behind Alexander Knappe after the German shot a blistering 61.

Whiteford’s best effort since he signed for the same score in the KPMG Trophy in Belgium in June helped him end a wretched run of five missed cuts in a row, including the Czech Masters on the European Tour.

Ross Kellett is also sitting inside the top 10 after a second-round 67 while Duncan Stewart jumped up more than 50 spots to joint-17th thanks to a 65 that included an inward half of 29.

Ewen Ferguson missed the cut on his pro debut and was joined in making an early exit by amateur Grant Forrest, though both can point to their clubs being lost by an airline en route to Pleneuf as a contributing factor in that disappointment.

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Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil finished joint-10th, eight shots behind English winner James Maw, as the Scottish challenge fizzled out in the final round of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Cobra Puma Golf Championship at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire.

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Last year’s runner-up Ross Drummond is already out of the reckoning in the Travis Perkins Masters on the European Senior Tour after an opening 78 left him sitting close to last at Woburn.

Irishman Des Smyth, a two-time winner, set the pace with a six-under 66, with Bill Longmuir, sitting four back, the leading Scot.

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Scotland beat England 3.5-1.5 to reach the final of the European Senior Men’s Team Championship at Diners Golf & Country Club at Ljubljana in Slovenia.

They now take on Germany in Saturday’s title-decider.

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England’s Sophie Lamb won the British Women’s Stroke Play Championship by two shots at Knock Golf Club in Belfast, where at one-under for 72 holes, she was the only player in the field to beat par. Scot Hannah McCook finished 16th.

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