Golf: Home hopes for Scottish Youths’ Championship

TWELVE months after battling it out for the title in the final round, neither Ewan Scott or Bradley Neil are in the field for the Scottish Youths’ Championship starting today at Lanark.

Scott, who emerged as the winner in the under-21s event at Ladybank, has understandably turned his attention to the men’s scene and sets out instead today in the Irish Open Stroke-Play Championship at Royal Dublin.

The St Andrews teenager is amongst 17 Scots in that field as they bid to emulate recent successes in the 72-hole event by compatriots Richie Ramsay (2005), Lloyd Saltman (2007) and Gavin Dear (2009).

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As for Neil, after a hectic spell that included the Blairgowrie player beating Scott in the final of the Scottish Boys’ Chanpionship at Monifieth, he’s got his head buried in school books at the moment in preparation for upcoming exams.

Despite the pair’s absence, the Golf Data Lab-sponsored event has still attracted a decent field, with a huge home contingent being joined over the next three days by challengers from Hong Kong, Finland, Germany, England and the Czech Republic.

Amongst those bidding to keep the title on home soil are two former Scottish Boys champions, Craig Howie from Peebles and Troon Welbeck’s David Wilson, while Ewen Ferguson, is aiming to improve on his 12th place finish in last weekend’s Fairhaven Trophy.

“I’m feeling pretty confident,” said the 16-year-old Bearsden player, who joined forces with Neil and Lauren Whyte to win the team event in Lancashire. “If I can sharpen up a few areas of my game then, hopefully, it can come altogether this weekend.

“The youths is a step up for a lot of the younger players like me but I think I can post results over the first few rounds and get in contention.”

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley landed the title in 1988, since when the winners have also included Dean Robertson (1991), Stephen Gallacher (1994) and Martin Laird (2003).