First, his seven-under-par 62 was equalled by both John Paterson and Eric McIntosh, then Liam Duncan came in with a 61. But his place in the record books lasted for only an hour or so.
In benign conditions on the Fife coast, pride of place on a low-scoring day in the first qualifying round in the Scottish Amateur Championship went to Longniddry’s David Rudd. At just 5,861 yards, the Balcomie Links is on the short side, admittedly, but a nine-under-par 60 was impressive, nonetheless.
The 19-year-old had nine birdies and signed for ten 3s, including six in a row from the fifth. He also made six single putts on the spin and 12 in total in a round that contained just 24 putts. No wonder he reported afterwards that the flat stick had been “pretty hot”.
Rudd injured his wrist after hitting a root during the Welsh Open Stroke-Play Championship earlier in the season. He said that his performances coming into this event had been “lacklustre” but it was one of those days when everything clicked.
“I knew I’d had a few birdies, but I had no idea that I had shot 60,” he said. “After getting in my own way a bit in recent events, I just tried to enjoy myself.” He certainly did.
Prior to this effort, Rudd said the highlight of his career had come in last year’s inaugural Watson Cup, a match between juniors from Edinburgh and East Lothian and their South Carolina counterparts. “That was at Kiawah Island and having Tom Watson watching my match was very inspirational,” he added. “My coach, Stewart Savage, has also helped me by putting in a lot of work over the last month.”
After Paterson (New Golf Club St Andrews) and McIntosh (Bruntsfield Links) had set the tone – no fewer than six players ended the day having carded 62s – Duncan was equally delighted with his eight-under effort. His opening drive found the burn at the back of the 322-yard first but getting up and down to save par “gave me a boost”.
The 19-year-old from Dunnikier Park in Kirkcaldy was bogey-free as he went on to card eight birdies, the pick of which was a 2 at the 188-yard sixth. “I couldn’t hit it in practice but knocked a 6-iron to 12 feet today and made the putt,” said Duncan, who is set to start a second year at New Mexico Junior College next week. “I shot a net 59 in the Crail Junior Open when I was 12 or 13 and the Balcomie Links is a fun course.”
In contrast to its neighbour, the Craighead Links course record of 63, held by Jack McDonald, was never under threat, though matching five-under 67s from Angus Carrick (Craigielaw) and Rob MacGregor from Tehidy Park in Cornwall were still good efforts.
Carrick, the 25-year-old son of former Walker Cup player David, was particularly pleased with his day’s work, the highlight of which was holing a 50-foot putt for an eagle-2 at the tenth. “I didn’t come here with any expectations as I am a trainee actuary with Royal London in Edinburgh and have my next exam in September,” said the University of Stirling graduate.
Defending champion Euan McIntosh (Turnhouse) faces a battle to be among the 64 players to progress to the match-play phase after he struggled to a 73 on the Craighead Links, but it was an encouraging start for reinstated amateur Callum Macaulay as he carded a bogey-free 64 on Balcomie Links.
“I’m happy with that as this is only my second tournament since being reinstated and I only missed one green in regulation,” said the 2008 winner at Carnoustie who is now a Ralston member. “My first event was the Tennant Cup and I was a broken man after playing 36 holes on the Sunday!”