Maths students Scott and McDonald have strength in numbers

TWO of the leading contenders in this week's Scottish Boys' Championship will be set for a meeting of minds as well as golfing talents if they justify their status to progress to the semi– finals at West Kilbride.

Jack McDonald, the pre-tournament favourite from Kilmarnock (Barassie), and fellow 17-year-old Jack Scott of Deeside are both bright lads as well as promising golfers and spoke refreshingly after first-round wins on a tough opening day on the picturesque Ayrshire coast about getting a sound education behind them.

McDonald, who was wrapped in four layers as he launched his bid to add the match play title to his Scottish Boys' Stroke Play success at Ladybank last summer with a comfortable 6 and 4 win over Kingussie's Jordan Shaw, is studying for Advanced Highers in maths and PE at Grange Academy in Kilmarnock with a view to studying applied maths at Stirling University.

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Scott, who was a relieved last-green winner over McDonald's clubmate, Callum Gorrie, after being five-up early on before suffering a back-nine collapse, also has his sights set on a maths degree at either Edinburgh or St Andrews, admitting the latter would get the nod if it was based purely on the golfing attraction.

A good friend of Hazlehead's David Law – who claimed this title 12 months ago before going on to complete a historic double by also winning the men's equivalent – Scott, in his final year at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen and coached by Neil Marr, headed straight to the practice range after scraping through his opening test.

"I was playing so solid on the front nine and was in control," he said.

"My game then started to fall to bits and it was maybe a bit of complacency as I was making silly errors. But I am confident I can get it back for tomorrow."

On a day when the morning starters had to battle wind and rain sweeping in from the south west before the sun made a brief appearance during a brighter afternoon, Angus Carrick reaped the reward of the advice he's been getting from two former Scottish Amateur champions as he progressed to the second round.

The 16-year-old's father, David, lifted the national title in 1985 and played in two Walker Cups, while he is currently being coached by Dean Robertson, who claimed his success in the SGU's flagship event in 1993 before going on to claim the Italian Open after turning professional.

Playing in the event for the first time after finally being able to get his handicap low enough to survive the ballot – made this year at 5.4 – Carrick, a fifth-year pupil at Kelvinside Academy, is now focusing purely on golf after the budding prop was forced to give up his rugby career.

"I dislocated my shoulder twice, most recently in January, so I've stopped playing altogether," he said after a hard-earned 2 and 1 success over Deeside's Steven Smith. Asked what it was like to be trying to follow in the footsteps of a successful father, Carrick admitted: "It's probably an advantage because he's been through it all before."

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Pollok's Conor O'Neill, the backmarker in the field off +1.8, recovered from being two down after four to win his opening match, revealing afterwards that he's off to Michigan State University after the summer to join a golf team that currently includes Jack Newman, who played in the Masters last year after winning the US Public Links, and Edinburgh's James Ross.

In one of the handful of games that went to extra holes, Ewan Scott, a 14-year-old pupil at Madras College in St Andrews who rubber-stamped his potential when winning the English Under-14s Open Championship last year, squeezed through against namesake Martin and now meets Paul McPhee, the son of the former Dundee United and Forfar Athletic full-back, Ian .