Euan Walker storms into four-shot lead in African Amateur with round to go

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Two years after fellow Scot Liam Johnston landed the same prize at the same venue, Ayrshireman Euan Walker has victory in the African Amateur Championship in his sights at Leopard Creek.

After signing off with an eagle as he carded a second successive 67 for a 10-under-par total, the Kilmarnock (Barassie) player opened up a four-shot lead heading into the final round at the Mpumalanga venue.

Walker, who started the day two shots behind halfway leader Garrick Higgo, stormed ahead of the South African with another impressive display on a course that hosts the Alfred Dunhill Championship on the European Tour.

Hoping to land an early-season success in South Africa to boost his hopes of playing in the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool later in the year, Walker bounced back from his only dropped shot of the day at the third with back-to-back birdies at the next two holes.

He then picked up shots at the ninth and 11th before finishing in style with that eagle, hitting a 9-iron from 163 yards to 25 feet and rolling on the putt to give him a handy cushion over home hope Higgo and the others in the chasing pack heading into the closing circuit.

“I hit a lot of good putts today, but the one at the last was probably the best of the lot in terms of it going in at the perfect pace. I was pretty delighted about that. It capped off the round, really,” said Walker.

“I was disappointed to make a bogey at the third, one of the most difficult on the course, but I knew that it wasn’t going to set me back over the course of the round as I knew there were plenty of opportunities to come.

“It was great to respond immediately with two birdies. The birdie at the fifth was a massive bonus as it was a tricky putt and it was the first one I’ve holed with the flagstick in under the new rules. That really settled me down for the rest of the round.” As well as Johnston’s victory, Walker is aiming to add to South African Amateur title triumphs by Michael Stewart, Brian Soutar, Daniel Young and Craig Ross in recent years as Scottish players have enjoyed lots of success in the Rainbow Nation.

On the European Tour, newly-crowned Vic Open champion David Law spearheads 
an eight-strong Scottish contingent in the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth at Lake Karrinyup.

Also in the field for an event that comprises a mix of stroke-play and match-play are David Drysdale, Richie Ramsay, Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston, Bob MacIngtyre, Connor Syme and Ewen Ferguson, the latter having secured his spot through a sponsor’s invitation.