Euan McIntosh makes bright start in Amateur Championship

Euan McIntosh''carded a level-par 71 at Royal Aberdeen. Picture: Kenny Smith
Euan McIntosh''carded a level-par 71 at Royal Aberdeen. Picture: Kenny Smith
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Euan McIntosh, the 2016 Scottish Order of Merit winner, fared best among the home players on the opening day of the 123rd Amateur Championship in Aberdeen.

In testing conditions for the first of two stroke-play qualifying rounds, the experienced Turnhouse player carded a level-par 71 at Royal Aberdeen.

That left him lying joint-seventh out of 288 players, with the top 64 and ties after 36 holes progressing to a match-play phase.

McIntosh, a reinstated 
amateur who is preparing for a crack at the seniors’ circuit, birdied three holes in a row from the fourth before moving to four-under after 11 holes.

Like most others, though, he found the closing stretch on the Balgownie Links a fearsome beast into the wind and dropped four shots before reaching the clubhouse.

Australian David Micheluzzi and Sam Meek of Canada produced the day’s best efforts at Royal Aberdeen with matching 69s, while Norwegian Viktor Hovland, the highest-ranked player in the field, had a 70.

Next door at Murcar Links, South African Wilco Nienaber took pride of place with a four-under-par 66 that contained six birdies.

That effort was three shots better than the rest of the field there, the next best efforts being produced by Australian Blake Collyer and Englishman Laird Shepherd, who has seen his game go from strength to strength at Stirling University.

Nairn’s Sandy Scott and Rory Franssen (Inverness) fared best among the Scots at Murcar Links as they both signed for 73s.

Other home players on course to qualify include Stuart Easton (Irvine) and Robbie Morrison, who now lives in Australia but has made the journey specifically for this event.

Kinsale’s John Murphy, winner of the St Andrews Links Trophy in a play-off a week past Sunday, had a 74 at Royal Aberdeen to sit comfortably inside the qualifying zone.

But an early exit is on the cards for Spaniard Alejandro Larrazabal, who won this event in 2002 before turning pro but has now been reinstated to the amateur ranks. He never really recovered from an opening double-bogey 6 at Murcar Links and is lying in a share of 282nd after an 85.