ABERDEEN, Scotland (July 29, 2016) -- Andrew Burgess and George Duncan will contest the final of the Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship tomorrow after producing stunning victories to seal dream spots at Royal Aberdeen.
The pair will face off in the 36-hole showdown following brilliant victories that upset the odds over the north-east links.
Nairn’s Burgess, in particular, produced a superb semi-final result when he battled back from one down with three to play to win a high-quality tussle with Drumoig’s Connor Syme, the title favorite.
Just a week ago, Syme was helping GB&I retain the St Andrews Trophy while he has also lifted the European Amateur Team Championship and the Australian Amateur in 2016.
But Burgess, 21, matched him blow for blow in a remarkable match that featured 13 birdies between them, with the one-hole victor round in five-under-par 66 to Syme’s 67.
Windyhill’s Duncan, meanwhile, fought all the way to see off Elderslie’s Alastair McDougall at the 20th, beating a player who finished second in strokeplay qualifying at The Amateur Championship earlier this summer.
Duncan, 21, currently sitting 23rd on the Scottish Golf Men’s Order of Merit, will now seek to emulate another Windyhill player, the 2002 champion Andrew McArthur, and join a Scottish Amateur roll of honour that includes Colin Montgomerie and Stephen Gallacher.
Both players – who are unranked on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and play off +1.5 handicaps – were stunned at their respective successes, with Burgess beating Forres’ Jeff Wright 2&1 in the earlier quarter-finals, and Duncan seeing off Malcolm Pennycott (Royal Burgess) on the 18th after being three down with five to play. With the Scotland Men’s Home Internationals side for Nairn next month finalised after the Scottish Men’s Amateur, the unseeded finalists are giving food for thought.
Burgess, who has twice reached the fifth round at the Scottish Boys, said: “I’ve not played golf like that in a long time. I don’t really know what to say. I’m over the moon with how I played. I managed to step it up when I had to and that 7-iron shot on the last is up there with the best shots I’ve played. I was delighted to walk up and see it was only a few feet away for my birdie.”
This year’s Nairn club champion, who is coached by David Torrance and plays for Armstrong State in Georgia in the US, added: “I’ve been hitting the ball well for a while. I knew if I could get the putter going this week it would be big. I love the course, it suits my eye well, and I’ve just taken every match as it comes, with the help of my older brother, Sean, on the bag.
“There are a lot of similarities to here and Nairn, with a lot of irons off the tee and the rough is thick. There are only a handful of holes I haven’t played well this week.
“Connor was a little unlucky, he hit some great putts with a few lip out’s, especially the short one for birdie on 17 which was unfortunate. I’ve been inconsistent in America so it’s been good to finally put a week together and play some good golf.”
Syme said: “It was some game, I played really well. I made a good par on 18 after I felt I was unlucky to catch the bunker with my tee shot, but he birdied the last which was clutch and I hope he goes on and wins it now.
“Obviously 16 (three putts for bogey) and 17 cost me. On 17, I hit a really good putt and it just missed. I was really happy with the way I played and it just wasn’t meant to be unfortunately.”
Duncan is also at college in America, competing at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee. A scrappy match with McDougall went his way after his opponent three-putted the long 20th.
“It’s only my second Scottish Amateur, after Muirfield last year, so to reach the final is incredible, and I’m a bit speechless,” said the player who has won the last five Windyhill club championships. “I was happy to just get past the second round, to be honest. I got a nice draw but I’ve played well.”
Duncan, who shares the same name as the former Scottish Ryder Cup captain back in 1929, added: “I’m still a bit shocked I’m actually in the final. I’ve rode my luck a little bit, but a win is a win. I let the occasion get to me a little bit after losing my lead in the semi-final, but I fought back in the end. I’ll just go out in the final and have some fun and see if I can pull out the victory. It will be an interesting final.”
Saturday’s 36-hole final tees off at 8.30am and 1pm with entry free for all spectators.