Having lifted the Australian Amateur title at the start of the year, Connor Syme recently celebrated his 21st birthday after helping Scotland secure back-to-back European Amateur Team titles and last week played his part in GB&I’s defence of the St Andrews Trophy.
Ranked inside the world’s top 30, Syme is a hot favourite, especially with Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson missing out, and moved swiftly into round two of Scottish Golf’s flagship matchplay event with a comfortable 6&4 win over Aberdour’s Hamish Gorn.
A challenging tie awaits against Alva’s Lawrence Allan today, a player who has been performing well on the US college circuit, but Syme hopes to maintain his form. “We had a good match and I managed to keep my ball out of trouble which is key around this course,” said the Drumoig man. “I’m looking forward to the challenge tomorrow as Lawrence is having a good season.
“I’m enjoying the expectation this week, but you can only go out and play one match at a time. I’ve never been past the last 16 in the Scottish Amateur so it would be nice to do so this week.”
While play was delayed for 35 minutes due to some freak flooding, the top-ranked players handled the conditions to avoiding slipping to a first-round banana skin.
Two other national title holders, South African Amateur winner Craig Ross and Welsh Open Amateur holder Barry Hume also progressed, with Haggs Castle’s Hume firing five birdies in a “solid” 4&3 triumph over Troon Welbeck’s Ross McEwan.
Kirkhill’s Ross, meantime, eased through with a 5&3 success and found the conditions to his liking. “I’ve played well here, I remember doing well in the Scottish Boys back in 2009,” said the 23-year-old. “The course suits my game and I played solidly, with not much wrong. I didn’t make any birdies despite regularly putting it in to ten to 18 feet, but got the job done.”
There were big 8&7 wins for Liberton’s Kieran Cantley and Craig Howie (Peebles), another European Amateur team winner earlier this month, with Cantley noting: “For me, it’s all about keeping it in play off the tee here, that’s where you can score from.”
Cantley now faces Deeside’s Michael Lawrie, watched on by his father and Ryder Cup vice-captain Paul, after he edged through at the 19th against Stuart Houlden from East Kilbride.
Other winners included Turnhouse’s Euan McIntosh and Howie’s younger brother, Darren.