Schools golf: Paul Delaney delivers after 150-mile taxi dash

GLASGOW cabbie Paul Delaney may not have picked up a single penny for a trip to Aberdeen yesterday, but it proved rewarding nonetheless as his son, also Paul, made the most of a late call to progress in the Paul Lawrie Foundation Scottish Boys’ Championship at Murcar Links.

A neck injury suffered by Cameron Franssen from Inverness opened the door for Delaney, who received a phone call from SGU officials at 7.50 and jumped straight into his dad’s black cab, the 150-mile trip to Aberdeen being broken only by a quick visit to a McDonald’s for some breakfast.

The 15-year-old, who plays off five, arrived with half an hour to spare, grabbed a yardage book from the pro’s shop for a layout he’d never clapped eyes on and scored a one-hole win over Cameron Campbell of St Andrews.

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“I never thought I’d get in at this late stage, but I enjoyed every minute of it out there,” said Delaney of an adventure that also put a smile on his dad’s face, even though he was left to reflect on just how much that fare would have earned him.

At the end of an encouraging second day for the west coast contingent, Clober’s Gavin Roger is already through to the third round after he pulled off the tournament’s first big shock, beating top seed Greig Marchbank 3 and 2 in one of the afternoon tussles.

Roger, a player with a proven matchplay pedigree, having won the West of Scotland Boys’ Championship last year, won the opening three holes – his opponent three-putting each of them – and would have finished the contest earlier if he hadn’t missed from three feet at the 14th.

“I came here hitting the ball well and on my day I feel as though I am capable of beating anyone,” declared the 18-year-old Elmwood College student, who will probably need to be firing on all cylinders today against the talented Peebles player, Craig Howie.

On a changeable day on the north-east coast – it was miserable in the morning before clearing after lunch – two of the leading contenders, Liberton’s Anthony Blaney and Ewan Scott of St Andrews, both swept to comfortable victories in their opening encounters.

Blaney, who has reached the fifth round in the past two years, produced the week’s best figures so far, the 18-year-old from Edinburgh being five-under for the 14 holes he needed to defeat Portlethen’s Ben Murray.

“It’s not the longest of courses, but you have to think about shots rather than just taking out your driver,” said Blaney, who had given his confidence a timely boost by sharing the spoils in the opening Scottish Hydro Junior Tour event of the season at Gullane less than a fortnight ago.

Scott, who first showed signs of his potential when winning the English Under-14s Open Stroke-Play Championship three years ago, finished third in that event. He was level-par in opening his title bid with a thumping 7 and 6 win over Elgin’s Cameron Kerr, the highlights for the 16-year-old Fifer being birdies at the fifth and ninth.

A day after seeing his older brother crash out, Michael Lawrie also made a first-round exit, though the 13-year-old gave a creditable account of himself before succumbing 4 and 2 against Aaron McManus, who was born in Edinburgh but has lived in Darlington for more than a decade.

Of the match being watched by the tournament host, Tantallon member McManus said: “That added to the pressure but, at the same time, it was nice to play in front of an Open champion.”

Other first-round winners included Ben Craggs, son of SLGA national coach Kevin, and Sean Dunstaffnage, a 17-year-old from Oban who must be the only person at Murcar this week who doesn’t know that Bubba Watson is the new Masters champion.

“I feel asleep watching the final round and I’m doing my best not to find out who won as I want to watch it when I get home,” revealed the part-time log-splitter after cutting Uphall’s Jordan West down to size with a 3 and 2 success.

Tantallon’s Calum Hill, a semi-finalist a year ago, fell at the first hurdle, losing 4 and 3 to Blair Dalgleish, a 17-year-old from Ralston who missed out at Dunbar after breaking his wrist just three days before the event started.