The sons of two famous Scottish sporting stars will lock horns in the first round of next week’s Scottish Boys Championship, as the nation’s leading young talents set their sights on glory at Murcar Links.
By a remarkable quirk of fate, Michael Lawrie – son of former Open champion Paul – and Thomas Boyd, the son of ex-Scotland and Celtic defender Tom, will go head-to-head among Monday’s opening ties over the renowned north-east venue.
It’s a knockout event that always tends to throw up interesting stories and this year is no different as Bothwell Castle’s Boyd, a four handicapper, seeks to spring a surprise against Lawrie (Deeside), a scratch player who reached last year’s quarter-finals at Dunbar.
“It’s a nice story, the sons of an Open champion and a Scotland internationalist at football playing each other,” admitted Boyd Snr, the 72-capped player who played at three major finals.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have Paul’s skills in being able to pass on knowledge to my son in the way that Paul can do, but I’ve been there for a number of years now supporting Thomas and I’ll be doing the same at Murcar.
“We actually have five boys coming up from our local course, Bothwell Castle, to play in the tournament.
“It will be a tough task for Thomas, who will certainly be the underdog, but it’s the same scenario as football. When it comes to matchplay it’s about who turns up on the day, so all those football clichés you can use in golf too.
“Unlike the game I used to play, you are on your own, there are no team-mates to bail you out, like Henrik Larsson to score the goals when needed.”
Paul added: “We’ve never met, but obviously I know Tom was a very good footballer. You never know with match play. Michael hasn’t played much or done much work on his game recently as he’s been studying hard for his exams, but I know he’s looking forward to the Scottish Boys, as he always does.”
Murcar Links stages the Scottish Boys Championship for the fourth time, as the testing par-71 layout builds on its reputation as a leading venue, having hosted Lawrie’s European Tour matchplay tournament only last year and previously staged a Challenge Tour event.
A field of 234 players, representing 129 clubs, will tee up in the 75th staging of the Scottish Boys, seeking to emulate a list of past champions who include Andrew Coltart, Scott Henry and David Law, as well as GB&I Walker Cup players Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson.
Peebles’ Craig Howie took the title when the Scottish Boys was last held at Murcar in 2012 and his younger brother Darren - the reigning Scottish Schools Champion and a member of the victorious Scotland’s Boys Home Internationals side last season – will be out to emulate his sibling.
Lawrie junior is among a strong north-east contingent who will bid to follow last year’s champion, Will Porter, from Carnoustie, who is too old to defend his title, however runner-up Ross Callan (Bathgate) will travel north aiming to go one better.
In-form Scotland Boys internationals Sandy Scott (Nairn) and Rory Franssen (Inverness) also have their eyes on the prize, with Scott claiming last weekend’s season curtain-raiser on the Scottish Junior Tour while Franssen illustrated his potential in topping strokeplay qualifying at the Sanlam South African Amateur Championship in February.
Daniel Sommerville, Scottish Golf Events Manager, said: “The Scottish Boys Championship remains one of our flagship events and we are looking forward to staging a fantastic competition at Murcar Links. We have a really strong field of Scotland’s best young junior male golfers taking part which we are confident will produce some top class golf throughout the week.
“We are working hard to ensure our national championships meet the needs of golfers of all ages and abilities and they get a great experience by taking part. Scottish Golf is very grateful to Murcar Links and all of our host venues in 2016 for providing their courses for use in our championships, allowing us to provide fantastic courses on which the players can test their skills and showcase their talent.”