On a day when the Saltire topped the leaderboard throughout, Drumoig’s Connor Syme led an 11-strong Scottish contingent into the match-play phase of the Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.
Syme, who won the Australian Amateur Championship earlier in the year, matched his first-day effort at the main venue as he carded a flawless three-under-par 68 at Pyle & Kenfig in tough conditions.
The effort saw him progress to the knock-out stage as the leading qualifier after claiming top spot from Elderslie’s Alasdair McDougall, who’d earlier claimed the clubhouse lead from another Scot, Glencruitten’s Robert MacIntyre.
“The goal at the start of the week is to try and make the top 64 and the further up the leaderboard you go is a bonus,” said Syme after signing for three birdies. “I felt really comfortable in what I was doing today – a bogey-free round, which was nice in tough conditions so I’m delighted.”
Syme, a semi-finalist at Royal Portrush in 2014, added: “It’s a long way to go still but I’m looking forward to the math play as I feel pretty comfortable in the head-to- head environment.
“I have been playing pretty solid and feeling like I was on the edge of something good and winning the qualifying here is a pretty good start to the week.”
Finding his form again after “struggling a wee bit at the start of the season”, McDougall finished second on 138 (69-69) while left-hander MacIntyre, the Scottish champion, tied for sixth on 142 along with Kirkhill’s Craig Ross and Haggs Castle man Barry Hume, winner of the Welsh Open Stroke-Play Championship earlier in the year.
Balmore’s Christoper Maclean finished in a share of 13th on one-over, a shot ahead of Walker Cup duo Ewen Ferguson (Bearsden) and Grant Forrest (Craigielaw) as well as Cawer’s Jamie Savage and Lawrence Allan of Alva.
Peebles player Craig Howie, the top qualifier at Carnoustie 12 months ago, scraped through on this occasion as the cut rose to five-over late in the day, with a a total of 79 players progressing.
Among those to miss out was Nairn teenager Sandy Scott as well Austrlian Cameron John and Irishman Connor O’Rourke, winners of the St Andrews Links Trophy and Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship respectively on Scottish soil in recent weeks.