First round co-leader Calum Fyfe
(Scottish Golf Photo)
AYRSHIRE, Scotland (June 2, 2017) - Ryder Cup legend Bernard Gallacher saw his course record fall as a Scotsman and an Englishman led the way on an opening day of low scoring at the Carrick Neill Scottish Men’s Open Championship at Western Gailes.
In glorious conditions on the Ayrshire coast, the international field showed their class to reel off the birdies. Inside the opening 10 games of the day, Clevedon’s Alister Balcombe and Calum Fyfe from Cawder had fired superb 64’s to shave a shot off the course record held by Gallacher and Irishman Jonathan Caldwell.
Galllacher’s 65 came at final Open qualifying in 1986 and Caldwell’s at the2007 European Amateur Team Championship, but the lack of breeze yesterday morning meant Gailes was under attack.
Balcombe came back in a six-birdie run of 29, while Fyfe produced a flawless round featuring seven birdies.
“I think that is my best tournament round,” said Balcombe, 21, who has just finished his third year at college at Virgina Commonwealth. “My mum, Jean, was actually born and grew up in Largs and then my parents moved to Clevedon, just outside Bristol. But I’ve always had a little bit of a connection to Scotland, as I’ve played a fair bit here.”
Fyfe, meantime, a former Scottish Boys’ Order of Merit champion, was equally pleased with his own efforts. “I’ve been playing really good golf course this year but just not course managing myself well enough,” admitted the 20-year-old. “I’ve been making doubles and triples now and again, which affects your momentum. Today I stuck to the game plan and just flushed it really, six of my birdies were inside two feet.
“If you keep it on the short stuff then not a lot can go wrong. I birdied the first and the second was then key for me, as I holed a 25 foot putt for my par.”
Craig Connelly, caddy to Martin Kaymer, was among the onlookers as the afternoon starters set about chasing down the leading duo, a challenge made harder as the breeze picked up.
Lurking with intent, though, after his five-under 66 is the Drumoig-based Scot, Connor Syme. The European Amateur team winner from last summer birdied four of his opening six holes and is the top-ranked player in the field at world No. 8.
He said: “It was a perfect link day. I holed a nice one for par on 17 having missed a few chances, so it was good to keep the momentum. It was then great to hole a nice one down the hill on 18 for birdie.
“It’s a stunning place here, the first time I played it was yesterday. I missed the cut at the Lytham Trophy, but it has been pretty consistent this season. I’ve kind of just started poorly the last few events, so I was keen to get off to a good start this week.”
Englishman Thomas Plumb is also on 66 after his early effort, with Bruntsfield Links’ Eric McIntosh, the reigningr Scottish Boys champion, among a group in a share of fifth as the home players chase a first title success since Wallace Booth in 2008.
It was bad day though for last week’s Brabazon Trophy winner, the South African Kyle McClatchie, as he struggled to a seven-over 78.
ABOUT THE Scottish Open Amateur Stroke Play
The Scottish Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play
Championship is open to Male Amateur
all Nationalities. 72-hole stroke play
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