Bruntsfield Links’ Eric McIntosh achieved his biggest victory in the junior ranks after producing a dominant display to win the Scottish Boys’ Amateur Championship at Murcar Links.
The 17-year-old claimed a 2&1 success over Lewis Irvine from Kirkhill to take the trophy back to the Lothians for the first time since GB&I Walker Cup player Grant Forrest triumphed in the matchplay event in 2010. McIntosh was behind early in the 36-hole showdown, but after moving one ahead at the seventh he was always ahead before closing out a keenly contested tussle with a 15-feet birdie putt on the 35th, moments after Irvine had almost chipped in.
On a difficult day for scoring in the north east, with blustery and damp conditions notably in the morning round, McIntosh produced five birdies in the afternoon of the 36-hole final to add his name to the Scottish Boys’ roll of honour that includes Andrew Coltart, Scott Henry and David Law.
Law was among those watching the final and McIntosh, a member of the Scottish Golf Academy along with Irvine, said: “It feels amazing, I did not expect to be sitting here with the trophy this week. It was a very tight match but I holed a lot of putts at crucial times which kept me a nice two-up cushion and it was great to sink the putt to win it, what a feeling.”
After a host of surprise results at Scottish Golf’s flagship boys’ event, where 234 players competed representing 129 clubs, scratch player McIntosh stood firm to emerge victorious and add to his two junior titles at Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society, while he is also part of a strong junior section at Murrayfield.
McIntosh, who played cricket for Scotland at Under-15 level, added: “It’s a long week, coming through eight ties to win, and a highlight was beating Jamie Stewart, the third seed, in the fifth round. This is definitely the biggest success of my junior career. I guess I’ve had quite a low key career as an amateur, but my coach David Patrick has really brought my golf along in the last two years so that has definitely helped. I’d love to go on now and win the Scottish Boys Order of Merit, that would be amazing.”
Irvine, 16, was bidding to become the first Lanarkshire player to win the prize since Steven O’Hara won at Murcar in 1998 and the omens looked good for him when he raced into a two-hole lead after three holes thanks to back-back McIntosh bogeys.
But Irvine’s run of four bogeys from the fourth and a birdie two from McIntosh at the eighth turned the match around, as the Lothians man secured his own two-hole advantage.
A concession from McIntosh at the 10th reduced Irvine’s arrears, but after a run of halved holes in par the Kirkhill player sliced his tee shot for a lost ball at the short 16th to again fall two behind. Irvine then missed from four feet for birdie at 18, to leave McIntosh to enjoy his lunch two ahead.
A bogey at the 21st lost McIntosh the hole, but he holed a superb 45 feet putt at the 24th to restore his lead. A birdie at the 29th increased his advantage to three, but Irvine launched a fighting comeback that was only denied by excellent birdie putts from McIntosh at the 33rd and 35th.
Irvine, who plays off a two handicap, said: “I’m happy with the week, especially in the final, I struck the ball well and got the putter going a wee bit. The only difference was Eric got two or three longer putts in the final round and that is your 2&1 margin. I thought I was getting him down the 36th but when he holes a putt like that you can only really applaud him, there is not much you can do about. I’ve still got two years at this tournament so you never know what will happen in the coming years. I’ll look to play all the Boys Order of Merit tournaments this year and try to keep my name up there.”