Kirkhill’s Craig Ross is just three wins away from becoming the fourth Scot to claim the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship in the last six years.
The Lanarkshire lad reached the quarter-finals at George Golf Club after coming out on top in a ding-dong battle with Englishman Paul Kinnear.
Ross got his nose in front for the first time when it mattered most - on the last green after being two down after two and then again after 10 - to win a contest between two players who’ve upstaged the pros in recent years.
Ross won on the PGA EuroPro Tour at Mar Hall in 2014 while Kinnear qualified at Glasgow Gailes for last summer’s Open at St Andrews.
Earlier, Ross had carded an eagle and six birdies in beating Port Elizabeth’s Fezekile Kana 3&2.
“I played really well this morning and pretty steady in the afternoon,” he said. “I knew the game against Paul would be tough and I had to dig deep to win.”
That was reference to him standing one down with two to play before winning both the 17th and 18th, both with pars.
“I really like the course as it suits my game and keep getting more and more comfortable on it,” he added.
Ross, who meets Matt Saulez from Durban Country Club, is bidding to keep the title in Scottish hands after Craigie Hill’s Daniel Young claimed it 12 months ago.
Prior to that, Michael Stewart (Troon Welbeck) and Brian Soutar (Leven Golfing Society) also won this event in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
“We’ve had good success in this event,” acknowledged Ross, “and now I’m just trying to make it back-to-back Scottish wins and to get a nice start to the season.”
the 23-year-old has taken up in the match-play phase from where he left off when finishing second to compatriot Rory Franssen in the stroke-play qualifying on Sunday and Monday.
“Craig’s game is clearly suited to the course as his two qualifying rounds showed,” said Scottish Golf coach Spencer Henderson, who is accompanying Ross and his team-mates on this leg of their trip to South Africa.
“It’s quite short with emphasis on placing tee shots in right positions to set up chances with short irons.
“He played great this morning, when he was seven-under in closing out his match.
“In the afternoon, it was much tighter match and two great iron approach shots at 17 and 18 were enough to give him two-hole swing and a one-up win.”
Henderson added: “Craig has shown during the week that he can more than compete with South Africa’s top amateurs and will look to continue doing what he has done well so far this week.
“His wedge play has been outstanding and his attitude been positive throughout.”
The other two Scots to make it to the second day of the match-play stage are both out.
In another Scotland-England clash in the last 16, Cawder’s Calum Fyfe went down 3&2 to
Meltham’s Jamie Bower, a double winner in South Africa in recent weeks.
Nairn’s Sandy Scott was also far from disgraced as he lost to Albert Venter, the newly-crowned African Amateur champion, 3&2 in the second round.
Back to business after enjoying a belated party at home in Fife to celebrate his Australian Amateur Championship win, Connor Syme made the best start among the Scots in the qualifying phase of the Spanish equivalent.
A two-under-par 70 at Royal Seville Golf Club left the Drumoig Golf Centre player sitting joint-fifth, four shots behind Welsh pacesetter Owen Edwards, after the first of two stroke-play rounds.
On a day when only 18 players broke par, Scottish Amateur champion Bob MacIntyre (Glencruitten) was the next best among the tartan contingent on 73, a shot better than Liam Johnston (Dumfries & County).
After a 76, Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson is just outside the qualifying zone, as are Jack McDonald (Barassie) and Grant Forrest (Craigielaw) after matching 77s.
Hannah McCook (Grantown-on-Spey) is the top Scot in the women’s event at El Scorpion in Valencia, lying joint-36th after a five-over-par 76.
*** Bubba Watson, who has risen to world No 4 on the back of his recent win in the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, fancies his chances more this week in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral than either the US Open at Oakmont or the Open Championship at Royal Troon later in the year.
“I’m never changing my game for a certain tournament,” insisted the big-hitting left-hander, who has missed the cut in those two events for the last two years. “I play 20 tournaments a year, so that means 20 different swings and thoughts I’ve got to figure out.
“I love the game of golf over in Scotland, links golf, true links golf. I love it. But one week, going over for one week is hard for me to get where I need to be to perform at a high level.
“The British Open, really it bugs me a little bit just because the imagination, I haven’t been able to perform all four days. But truthfully, if we ended right today and Bubba could never play golf again, I think my career is better than I ever dreamed it could be.”
The Houses of Parliament will launch May’s National Golf Month with a chipping/putting competition in the Palace of Westminster for MPs, Peers and schoolchildren.
The launch, taking place on 27 April, will take in eight other iconic locations in London to promote golf and the importance of the sport to the UK’s health and economy.
Operated through Parliament’s All-Party Group for Golf, the official body responsible for “promoting the sport of golf”, the day will also provide the opportunity for MPs to learn more about the sport in their constituencies from the likes of The R&A and the golf unions from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
“The Parliamentary Group for Golf has a singular remit to support the sport,” said chairman Karl McCartney. “We encourage Members of Parliament to learn more about the sport and its importance to the nation’s health and wellbeing, and understand that golf, as one of the largest sports in the UK and with thousands of clubs, is of vital importance to the local, regional and national economies.”
Albatross Golf Resort, the host venue of the D+D REAL Czech Masters, has been announced as the 19th member of the exclusive European Tour Properties network, becoming an official European Tour Destination.
The impressive resort, which is just a 20-minute drive from the Czech capital, Prague, opened in September 2009 and quickly established itself as an ideal venue for high-profile tournaments.
After hosting a Ladies European Tour event in 2011 and 2012, it became the home of the D+D REAL Czech Masters on the European Tour International Schedule, which was won by Jamie Donaldson in 2014 and Thomas Pieters in 2015.
World No 1 Jordan Spieth has been nominated in two categories for the 2016 Laureus World Sports Awards.
Last year’s Masters and US Open champion is on the lists for the Sportsman of the Year Award and the Breakthrough of the Year Award.
Surprisingly, women’s world No 1 Lydia Ko has not made the nominees for the Sportswoman of the Year Award.