CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Craig Howie, of Peebles Golf Club in Scotland, posted the lowest round of day two at Carnoustie Golf Links to finish tied atop the 36-hole stroke-play leaderboard with New Zealand's Ryan Chisnall. By virtue of Howie's better back nine on Tuesday, the Scot earned the No. 1 seed heading into the match play portion of the 2015 British Amateur Championship.
Posting 68 at Panmure Golf Links on day one, where the scores have been generally lower, Howie trailed opening-round leader Alfie Plant of England by five. But Tuesday brought stellar play at the par-72 Carnoustie, where Howie used three birdies and an eagle on the back side to post 67 and finish stroke play qualifying at seven-under par 135. It will be the 22-year-old's first time making the match play bracket at The Amateur.
"There is a lot at stake this week but I don’t think about that," Howie told the R&A. "I have done the hard work and made the cut so I’m just going to take one round at a time."
Howie has had a nice run thus far in 2015 major events, placing top-10 in three tournaments including the St. Andrews Links Trophy, where he tied for third, as well as the Scottish Open Amaetur (T9) and the Welsh Open Amateur (T7).
Howie will be the first group off the first tee in the morning, beginning at 8:30 in his match against Michele Cea of Italy.
Plant, after setting the course record at Panmure on Monday with 63, found the tougher Carnoustie to be a challenge in round two. Despite shooting six-over 78 at the seven-time Open Championship host, Plant finished tied for 20th place and will be in the match play draw come Wednesday morning at Carnoustie, where he drew Adam Blomme of Sweden.
“I’m really pleased. It’s my first course record and my personal best round as well so it’s been a really good day," Plant told the R&A of his round-one triumph. "Obviously you see it a lot out here, people go low in the first round and find it hard to back it up in the second round. Hopefully I can do the same again tomorrow or, if not, just be nice and steady and get into the match play round.”
Plant's eagle at the par-4 3rd hole was replicated by another hole-out eagle on the par-4 10th, pushing him to seven-under for the day before parring the remaining eight holes.
Chisnall, 20, shot the same two rounds as Howie but in reverse order. The Kiwi posted his own 67 at Carnoustie on day one, which at the time was just two back of Plant's seven-under 63, and followed it up with 68 on Tuesday at the par-70 Panmure. He'll own the No. 2 seed when match play begins Wednesday morning.
“Match play is one of those games where anyone can beat anyone so you have just got to stay on top of your game and hopefully everything goes well," Chisnall told the R&A.
Chisnall's round-of-64 opponent will be the Argentinian Alejandro Tosti.
Looking to become the first American victor at The Amateur since Drew Weaver in 2007 will be five of 12 representing the United States. University of South Florida junior Ryan Stovash of Orlando, Fla., USC junior Rico Hoey of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., UNLV sophomore John Oda of Hawaii, Pepperdine senior Frederick Wedel of Roseville, Calif., and Oklahoma State senior Jordan Niebrugge of Mequon, Wisconsin are among 64 match lay qualifiers.
For a look at the match play bracket, click here.
With the cut falling perfectly at one-over par, with exactly 64 players needed for match play at one-over or better, the 288-player field was weeded down and a few notable players were left out.
Just missing the cut was No. 15-ranked amateur in the world, according to the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings, Ryan Ruffels of Australia, who posted one-over on both days. England's Nick Marsh, ranked 19, was one of fifteen players to finish at three-over.
Coming in at three-over with Marsh were Irish standout Cormac Sharvin and 2014 Asia-Pacific Amateur winner Antonio Murdaca of Australia.
Australia's top-ranked player in the field, Lucas Herbert, turned in a disappointing performance finishing tied for 124th place at five-over 147.
ABOUT CARNOUSTIE GOLF LINKS
Carnoustie is one of the world’s most famous links courses and has hosted The Open Championship seven times, most recently in 2007 when Padraig Harrington lifted the Claret Jug for the first time. It will host the Amateur Championship for the fifth time in 2015, while Panmure has strong ties to the Amateur as one of the 24 clubs that funded the trophy commissioned in 1886.