McAlpine rallies over back nine to thwart Smith
KEVIN McAlpine's comeback from injury gathered pace at a wind-ravaged Royal Troon yesterday as he mounted a back-nine rally to secure his place in the second round of the Allied Surveyors Scottish Amateur championship.
The 25-year-old from Alyth clawed himself back from four holes down at the turn against four-times Lothians champion Stuart Smith of Duddingston and claimed a one-hole victory on the final green.
McAlpine, who won the Scottish Amateur crown at Nairn in 2006, is appearing in only his fourth event of the year having spent seven months on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury which required surgery.
"Being out of the game was quite depressing and like any sportsman I was desperate to play again," said McAlpine, the son of former Dundee Utd keeper Hamish. "When you're on the sidelines for so long you wonder if you still have it but my love for golf drove me on."
McAlpine, who also won the national strokeplay title in 2007, was facing an uphill struggle as Smith forged a commanding lead by the turn but an eight-iron to 20-feet at the tenth, which spawned a birdie, provided the catalyst for a rousing fightback.
He reduced the deficit to two when Smith three-putted the 11th before birdie putts from 15 and 30 feet at the 14th and 15th restored parity.
All-square playing the last, McAlpine's approach trickled through the back of the green but he two-putted from almost 50-feet for a match-winning par to set up a second round duel with Fife's Scott Stewart-Cation.
"When you're four down on a course as tough as this you still feel you have a chance," added McAlpine.
In the day's other round one encounters, second seed Wallace Booth saw his Walker Cup hopes suffer a blow as he lost 3 and 2 to Fraserburgh's former British Boys' champion Jordan Findlay.
Booth, part of Scotland's Eisenhower Trophy and European Team championship winning sides, has been tipped to be named in the GB&I squad for September's match with the USA but, while he has excelled in team competition over the last few months, his results on the individual front this season have done him no favours.
Findlay, the 21-year-old who boasts an impressive matchplay pedigree, laid the foundations for a fine win by surging into a four-hole lead through 11 during a burst illuminated by birdies at five and nine.
"The key was to build a lead early on as I knew that when we turned to come home downwind, Wallace would have the advantage," said East Tennessee University graduate Findlay.
Kilmarnock's Steven McEwan, runner-up in the national championship last year, was another of the seeds to tumble as he lost to Oklahoma-based Andrew Abercrombie.
McEwan, the 2008 SGU No 1, fought back from four down early on by winning eight, nine, ten and 11 but 19-year-old Abercrombie nosed in front again on the home stretch and held on for a one hole win.
In the early second round matches, top seed Gavin Dear continued his progress with a 2 and 1 defeat of Deeside's Thomas Rennie.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
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