Connor Syme upbeat after bowing out

Connor Syme is heading for the United States and two big assignments in the final few weeks of the battle for Walker Cup spots with his head held high.

Connor Syme plays his chip shot to the 13th during the second round. Picture Ian Rutherford
Connor Syme plays his chip shot to the 13th during the second round. Picture Ian Rutherford
Connor Syme plays his chip shot to the 13th during the second round. Picture Ian Rutherford

While the 22-year-old Fifer may have been disappointed to bow out early on his major debut at Royal Birkdale, it was a week nonetheless that provided him with a platform to make a favourable impression.

On the course, Syme can certainly feel encouraged by making seven birdies over two rounds on one of the most 
difficult courses on the R&A’s rota for this event, having already shown he had a game to compete at the top level when he shared top spot in one of the final qualifiers at Gailes Links.

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That’s the thing he’ll feel most encouraged about as he bids to use this appearance as stepping stone to returning to this stage as a professional on a frequent basis.

But no less pleasing from a personal perspective and also for Scottish golf was the way handled himself off the course and that was despite the starter pronouncing his name wrong on the first tee in both the rounds.

“It’s been an absolutely amazing experience to play in such big crowds. Playing with John Daly as well was also really good and I will definitely take a lot from this week,” said Syme, last year’s Australian Amateur champion.

“The whole week has been special. Having my whole family and friends here is something that doesn’t happen too often and it was cool to see all of them following me around.

“There have been a lot of positives. I made a good number of birdies again today but just had too many mistakes, which is going to cost me.”

Syme was particularly annoyed about running up a quadruple bogey 7 at the 12th as he carded a second-round 76 for a nine-over-par total, having opened with a battling 73 on Thursday.

“I was struggling away fine, but the 12th really cost me and I’m a bit disappointed about that,” he admitted. “I missed it right and, reflecting on it over the final few holes, I aimed too close to the flag as the only place you can’t afford to miss it there is on the right side.

“I had no stance really and got underneath it a little bit to the left before going back into the bunker. It was a bit of a nightmare. It’s the sort of thing you wouldn’t see the pros doing and it’s something for me to learn from.

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“My caddie, Tim Poyser, helped me out after what happened at the 12th as it was a case of still trying to do myself proud. It was pleasing to finish with six straight pars, though I missed a good chance for a birdie at the last and that was a bit disappointing. It’s some big numbers – two doubles and a quadruple – that are going to cost me and I’ve not had many of those this season.”

Syme is heading to America on Tuesday to prepare for the Western Amateur and, after that, the US Amateur. Strong performances could help secure a spot in the Great Britain & Ireland side that will defend the Walker Cup under Craig Watson’s captaincy in Los Angeles in September.

“They are both big events and hopefully I can use this experience to do well out there,” he said. “The Walker Cup is still my goal and hopefully I can get a spot on that team. If it was done on world rankings, I am third in terms of GB&I players at the moment so hopefully that helps. But you never know. It’s a team pick and hopefully I am the right fit.”

If the young Scot finds himself back on this stage one day, he’ll be hoping the starter, David Lancaster, finally gets his name right after announcing him as “Sim” on both days here. “He told me he was going to get it right today after coming to apologise for yesterday only to do the same thing,” said Syme, shaking his head.

Alfie Plant, a 25-year-old Englishman, has already won the Silver Medal after he was the only amateur out of five to make the cut on four-over. The European Amateur champion joins Justin Rose (1999) and Chris Wood (2008) in achieving that feat here.