Nairn teenager Calum Scott continued to make home advantage count as he moved into the last 32 of The 126th Amateur Championship.
On a day when the leading stroke play qualifier, Matthew Clark, and the top-ranked player in the field, Mark Power, were both knocked out, Scott helped maintain the Scottish challenge with a notable triumph in the opening match play stage.
The 17-year-old ousted Englishman Conor Gough, the 2018 Boys Amateur Champion and 2019 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team member, after an impressive 3&2 success.
Scott holed a 45 feet putt from the back of the 5th green to go one up and holed another long putt at the 6th as he made the most of his quick start to triumph and cheer the local members.
“I’m really pleased to win,” beamed Scott. “It was a bit stressful towards the end, but I managed to get the job done.
“Conor won the Boys’ Amateur so has a good match play record, but I just played my own game and tried to enjoy it. It’s not often you get The Amateur Championship at your home club and the support is really nice too.
“I’ve played here for over 10 years, I know a lot of the green reads and also where to miss it out here. It’s a good advantage in the match play environment.
“The front nine was difficult into the wind, but I played well which was key. I don’t show nerves, but I do feel them. I’m just trying to enjoy it and I’m happy I’ve made it this far.”
Over the renowned Moray links, Kilmacolm’s Clark was one up after three holes against Mason Essam before his English opponent from Dartford fought back for a fine 5&4 win.
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Essam said: “It’s nice to get through having played well today, especially against Matt, who has clearly been playing well over the last couple of days. Matt is a great guy, we had a good game and it was all in good spirits.
“I rode the crest of a wave after being down early on, making birdies and pars and took each shot as it came. I didn’t think about Matt’s round yesterday (course record 62), just tried to play my own game and put him under pressure. When I got up, I tried to keep going and I think I made a good job of that.
“I came here to the Boys’ Amateur in 2017 and the course is superb. I reached the last 16 of The Amateur last year and it’s an event I like to play, especially the match play format.”
Power, who played for GB&I in last month’s Walker Cup, had eased into the knockout stage but was unable to see off the challenge of 2018 Scottish Boys Champion Connor Wilson from Castle Park.
Last hole win
Irishman Power, ranked 33rd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® and a semi-finalist at The Amateur last year, fought back from two down to square the match with three holes to play. However, Wilson’s birdie at the par-5 18th proved decisive for a one-hole victory after Power was bunkered off the tee.
“It was seriously difficult in the conditions against Mark,” said Wilson. “I actually played him in the 2018 Boys’ Home Internationals as well and he beat me 5&4 at Royal Dornoch. I think he had five birdies in a row that day, so I knew he was a good player.
“I was two up after three today, helped by a chip in on the 1st which is always a good start. He then tried to claw it back the whole way round, really. He won 14 and 15 to square the match, but I came through on the 18th.
“I’ve been involved in the Stephen Gallacher Foundation since it started really, and it’s helped me so much through the years. It has helped me get into competitive golf. I’ve met Stephen a few times and he is a great guy. Since winning the Scottish Boys at Moray, I’ve been trying to kick on.”
Alan Fahy helped maintain the Irish challenge with a 4&2 win over Jamie Roberts, while there was a convincing 6&5 win for John Paterson over his fellow Scot, Derek Paton.
There was a silver lining for Paton, 57, in defeat, who dashed off to play in the Scottish Senior Men’s Open Championship at Duff House Royal in the afternoon.
Paterson said: “I started off solidly and birdied the 4th, 5th and 6th to get the ball rolling. I held on from there and made a couple more birdies on 10 and 11. I hit the ball really well in qualifying and started to hole some putts today, which has given me confidence for the rest of the championship.
“I’ve not been home for almost a year, so I’m trying to learn links golf again and it’s good to be back. I’ve just finished my third year at the University of Colorado.
“Derek is a great guy. He has got the Scottish Senior Men’s Open at Duff House Royal this afternoon, so best of luck to him for that. He had a backup plan!
“I played the Boys Amateur’ here and it’s a lovely golf course which I’m comfortable on.”
Dyer eases through
England’s Jack Dyer, a GB&I Walker Cup player alongside Power last month at Seminole, eased into the last-32 with a comfortable 6&5 triumph over Norway’s Markus Braadlie.
“I was on the beach on the 1st and the 4th, so it was a bit of a shaky start,” admitted Dyer. “It’s amazing, you have two solid rounds of golf, but when you are playing all these rounds you can have a front nine like that. My putting was amazing, I had four or five one putts in a row that kept me in it.
“Anything can happen in match play, as we have seen with results today, and you just can’t take any matches for granted. Hopefully I’ll keep off the beach tomorrow and see how we get on. My game feels good and my head is in quite a nice space, with my Dad on the bag keeping me grounded.”
With the match play stage continuing to Saturday’s 36-hole final, the winner gains an exemption into The 149th Open at Royal St George’s, the US Open and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.
The 36 hole final round will be live broadcast on The R&A’s YouTube and Facebook accounts as well as on randa.org
Live scoring, news and video can be followed on The R&A’s website and social media platforms.