This is the smile of a golfer who just buried his opponent with
two hole outs at Prestwick (Scottish Golf Union photo)
PRESTWICK, SCOTLAND (August 2, 2017) - Have you heard the one about the New Zealander, playing out of Carnoustie, competing in his first Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship who holed two shots en route to the third round at Prestwick? No. Then read on…
For Liam Balneaves, it really was a day to remember on the famous Ayrshire links as he produced one of the stories of the week. While more fancied players continued their progress, the scratch handicapper composed a remarkable round to beat Rory Smith from Dalmahoy 4&3.
Related: Scottish Amateur: Scott, Fyfe Co-Medalists at Prestwick
The 29-year-old hails from Invercargill but has been living in Scotland for the last four years, with his mum and dad both born here. Working out of the famous Auchterlonies golf shop in St Andrews, he has kept his eye in on the golf course ahead of returning to his native New Zealand next month.
That was never truer than at a rainy Prestwick where he produced the third hole-in-one of his golfing life at the second hole with a well-struck 8-iron, before holing from 145 yards with a 9-iron for an eagle at the 12th. His opponent, Smith, probably didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“I felt sorry for Rory, I did,” admitted Balneaves. “It was a crazy day, I’ve never had anything like it in golf. I’m hitting it really good. I love the course, and it’s fun for matchplay.” He then joked: “Our weather back home is similar to here, so I’m comfortable in wind and rain!”
Elsewhere, top-ranked players also handled the conditions. There were comfortable early second-round victories for favourites Craig Howie (Peebles) and Sandy Scott (Nairn), who have now set up a mouthwatering meeting in the opening match of the last-32.
Howie, a former Scottish Boys champion, has one goal in mind this week – simply to win. “I played pretty solid, didn’t make too many mistakes,” he said. “I’m loving the course, it’s quirky, but it really tests your ball striking.
“I want to win as the GB&I Walker Cup team is a target this year, but to start thinking about the Walker Cup while I’m out on the course is probably the worst thing I can do so I’m just trying to take it game by game.”
Craig’s younger brother, Darren, was also a notable winner, taking out fellow Scotland internationalist Rory Franssen with a 3&2 triumph. Kirkhill’s Craig Ross continued his progress, as did Ryan Lumsden from Royal Wimbledon, who represented Scotland in the recent European Amateur Team Championship.
Another ex-Scottish Boys’ champion, Carnoustie’s Will Porter, also showed his liking for matchplay once more. The 19-year-old, who is working with coach Fraser Mann, defeated Lewis Irvine by one hole and said: “It’s a long week, so we’ll see what happens. I actually try to treat it as strokeplay and enjoy it. I l have memories of my win in 2015 in the Boys at Dunbar so hopefully that inspires me.”
While Walker Cup captain Craig Watson from East Renfrewshire bowed out, losing 3&2 to Calvin Cheyne from Newmachar, another intriguing story could unfold as Australia-based Scot Robbie Morrison, who plays out of Royal Perth, progressed after beating Brendan McKenna (Pollok) 4&3.
Calum Fyfe from Cawder, the top qualifier along with Scott, moved into the third round late in the day, beating Paul Gault of Haggs Castle 4&3. Balmore’s Chris Maclean was an early evening winner too, beating Alyx Murray from Troon Welbeck.
ABOUT THE Scottish Amateur
The Scottish Amateur Championship began in
1922 and has witnessed many famous victors,
including legendary amateurs Ronnnie Shade
and Charlie Green as well as some of the stars
of the modern game, Colin Montgomerie and
Entry to the Championship is open to any male
golfer who was either born in Scotland, has
Scottish parentage, permanent residency in
Scotland for not less than 5 years and has not
played international golf or competed in a
closed Championship for any other country
other than Scotland. The starting field shall be
256 and, in the event of an over-entry, the
number shall be reduced in order of exact
handicap. Each match shall consist of one
round of 18 holes except the final which will be
played over 36 holes.
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