Ireland’s Rowan Lester is off to a strong start at the Boys Amateur Championship with an even-par round of 72 at Dundonald Links which gives him a single shot lead over American Graysen Huff.
Huff turned in a one-over-par 73 while three players finished with two-over-par rounds of 74 at Dundonald; Scotland’s Christopher Curran from Harburn, Callum Farr from Northamptonshire County and Australia’s Ben Ferguson.
At Prestwick Denmark’s Frederik Hedmark and Norway’s Kristoffer Reitan both carded two-over-par rounds of 73, a shot better than Luke Northwood of Kenilworth, Oskar Bergqvist of Sweden and Spain’s Xabier Gorospe and Victor Garcia Broto who each posted a three-over-par 74. Their fellow Spaniard Jorge Edo is also on three-over-par after posting a 75 at Dundonald, as is Calum Fyfe from Cawder and Jack Floydd from Haywards Heath.
Players contended with challenging conditions at Prestwick and Dundonald Links as rain and winds gusting up to 30mph lashed both courses throughout the day.
An international field from 23 countries will play a qualifying round of stroke play on each course before the leading 64 players and ties progress to the match play stage commencing on Thursday at Prestwick. The 36-hole final will be played in morning and afternoon sessions on Sunday August 17.
Lester, who represented Ireland at both the recent Boys Home Internationals at Western Gailes and the European Boys Team Championships in Norway in July, carded three birdies in his front nine but dropped shots on the 7th and 8th holes. The 18-year-old from Hermitage posted two further bogeys on the 10th and 13th but finished strongly as the weather began to clear.
“I think I got the luckier part of the draw in the afternoon,” said Lester, who enjoyed a respite from the rain down the stretch. “I tried to play smart golf all day and I managed to hole a few putts, which always helps.
“I had a good up-and-down for par on the second hole followed by two nice birdies on three and four which kick-started me and took some of the pressure off. I played a solid back nine and birdied the last hole to finish the round which made it even better.”
Huff posted birdies on the 6th and 17th holes against three bogeys on the 2nd, 8th and 16th for a strong start to his Boys Amateur Championship debut. The 17-year-old finished third in the Idaho State Amateur earlier this year and won the PING Phoenix Junior at ASU Karsten in June.
Home hope Christopher Curran finished as the leading Scot after the first round, carding two birdies and four bogeys at Dundonald. The 17-year-old finished runner-up following a play-off in the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Trophy at Macdonald Cardrona in May and is hoping to continue his steady play at Prestwick.
“It’s a really good feeling and a good experience to be playing at home,” said Curran. “It was tough today with the rain and it was a struggle into the wind making it difficult to keep the ball in play. I had two good birdies on the par-3s, I hit a rescue to 15 feet on 4 and holed the putt and then an 8-iron to ten feet on 11.”
Defending champion Ewen Ferguson of Bearsden is in position to qualify for the match play stage after posting a six-over-par 77 at Prestwick. The 18-year-old is the first player to hold the Boys Amateur, Scottish Boys Match Play and Scottish Boys Stroke Play titles at the same time.
The second round of qualifying stroke play gets underway at 7:00 am on Wednesday. Admission and parking is free for spectators at both venues.
Boys Amateur qualifying stroke play leaderboard.