Connor Syme produced some excellent golf in difficult conditions to lead the qualifiers for the match play stage of The 121st Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.
A semi-finalist at The Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush in 2014, Syme carded a 3-under-par 68 in strong, gusting winds at Pyle & Kenfig to finish on 6-under-par after the two stroke play rounds.
Syme, who won the Australian Amateur Championship in January and was part of the winning Scottish team in the European Amateur Team Championship last year, got off to a good start with a birdie at the 2nd and picked up two further shots on the back nine in a bogey-free round.
“The goal at the start of the week is to try and make the top 64 and the further up the leaderboard you go is a bonus,” he said. “I felt really comfortable in what I was doing today – a bogey-free round, which was nice in tough conditions so I’m delighted.
“I holed the par putts when I needed to. I didn’t really have any testy putts for par. I chipped it really well. I’m really delighted – bogey free is a bonus. I was trying to qualify for tomorrow.”
Alasdair McDougall finished two shots behind his fellow Scot to secure his place in the match play stage.
McDougall, from Elderslie, mixed three bogeys and five birdies on his way to a 2-under-par round of 69 to reach the match play stage for the first time on his fourth appearance in The Amateur Championship.
“I kept the ball in play today especially with it being windy. I think that was the key today. I had a good birdie at four and five, which got momentum going,” said McDougall.
“The Amateur is the highlight of the year, it’s the biggest tournament, everyone prepares for it and it brings people from all over the world. I’ve played this the last few years (since 2013) and not made the cut – so it’s good to be in there safe and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.”
The overnight leader, Frenchman Antoine Rozner, finished on 2-under-par after posting a five-over-par 76 at the same venue and was tied with England’s Harry Hall.
Rozner admitted he had a tough day, commenting, “It was a battle from the very beginning and I knew it was going to be like this. I knew no matter what happened I would have to stay calm, because obviously my run from yesterday helped me to stay on top of the leaderboard.
“I got that eagle on the 9th that really helped me stay with a decent round. And then it was just a battle – I don’t even think I hit bad shots – it was just tough.”
Hall added, “I just stayed patient today. After yesterday, I felt really good going into the round. Being in the states the last few months I haven’t really had to use the tool I’ve needed the last few days but just growing up on the links I kind of still had it and it was nice to play in the wind, keep the ball low and stay sensible.
“It gives me a lot of confidence. I think patience is important for qualifying, and especially at the top, you can’t afford to be too relaxed and waste your shots. But I was smart and I was under control.”
The cut fell at 5-over-par and 79 players reached the match play stage which gets underway at Royal Porthcawl tomorrow.
Among the other qualifiers were the Lytham Trophy winner Alfie Plant on 2-over-par and 2015 Scottish Amateur Champion Robert MacIntrye, who finished on level par. Australia’s Cameron Davis, who was joint runner-up in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in October, was on the same mark, two shots ahead of his compatriot Travis Smyth, who was the runner-up to Syme in the Australian Amateur Championship.
Grant Forrest, the runner-up in last year’s Amateur Championship qualified on the 2-over-par mark along with his Walker Cup team mates Ewen Ferguson, on the same score, and Jack Hume, on 4-over-par.
For the draw, scoring and the full list of qualifiers visit championships.randa.org.