Ireland’s Caolan Rafferty and Scottish pair Chloe Goadby and Lorna McClymont lead their respective international fields going into the final round of The R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament in St Andrews.
Contested over 54 holes at the Old Course and the Eden Course, the two-day World Amateur Golf Ranking™counting event features 60 men and women students representing 24 universities from across the world.
Rafferty, from Maynooth University, lived up to his billing as the highest ranked player in the field to secure a comfortable lead in the men’s event, posting impressive scores of 68 and 67 for a five-under-par tally for the opening 36 holes over the Eden.
The world ranked No. 43, who reached the semi-finals of the South African Amateur Championship earlier this year, recorded nine birdies and just four dropped shots to establish a five-shot lead over Peter Kerr (University of St Andrews) going into the closing round over the Old Course tomorrow.
The 26-year-old, making his second appearance in the event, said, “I had a good start to the season down in South Africa so my golf is in good shape. I played solid today. I didn’t really hole any putts in the morning, but holed a few five to six-footers in the afternoon with a few really good up and downs.
“It definitely helped having played the course last year, as it can be tricky at times. It’s a lot more enjoyable when you know your way round. The Old Course tomorrow will be great, it’s the Home of Golf. Just to be in the town itself for us all is unreal, so it’s about enjoying it and taking it in.”
Rafferty is aiming to emulate another Maynooth University player, the 2018 winner Ronan Mullarney, who is tied for sixth this year on two over par.
On a bright yet cold day, Rafferty’s five-under tally was matched by Goadby in the women’s event, the University of Stirling student who plays out of local club St Regulus Ladies.
Goadby shot rounds of 70 and 71, with her efforts highlighted by an eagle three at the second hole in her opening 18 holes.
In the final group of the day, McClymont (SRUC Elmwood) joined Goadby at the summit after a superb four-under-par 69 in the afternoon.
Hope for biggest career win
“I gave up a few chances out there, but there were some tough pin positions, so I couldn’t get too greedy,” Goadby, 21, said. “I played steadily, just didn’t hole many putts so I felt as though I could have been a few shots better, but I’ll certainly take five under for the day.
“It’s nice to be in my home town. I don’t get to play the Eden Course much these days, as obviously I’m at University. I like it, I grew up on it. It’s now good to get the chance to play the Old Course tomorrow. I’m excited for that as I’ve not played it in a while. Hopefully the putts will drop.”
McClymont, 18, making her debut in the event, added, “It’s great to be sharing the lead, especially as my second round included a double bogey at the 14th.
“I won the Scottish School Girls last year, but winning tomorrow would be the biggest win of my career so far, definitely.”
The pair sits one-stroke clear of a trio of players, Jasmine MacKintosh (Robert Gordon University), Nicola Slater (University of Stirling) and Norway’s Emily Michelle Laws (University of Stirling).
Arnold Palmer spots available
The men’s and women’s champions will receive automatic spots in the International Team to face the United States of America in the 2019 Arnold Palmer Cup match being played at Alotian, Arkansas from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 June.
Each year, The R&A invests over £300,000 in student and university golf. Currently, the organisation supports golf programmes at 17 universities and in the 2018/2019 academic year, awarded 170 individual Foundation scholarships.
The R&A has supported university and student golf for over 35 years with former scholars including: 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari (University of Turin); five-time PGA TOUR winner Hideki Matsuyama; and Catriona Matthew (University of Stirling), the 2019 European Solheim Cup Captain and former Women’s British Open Champion.
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