Drumoig’s Connor Syme will make his Open Championship debut at Royal Birkdale after a stunning second round saw him clinch one of just three spots available at Final Qualifying at Gailes Links.
Despite heavy rain all day over the Ayrshire links, the 22-year-old, currently the leading Scot at seventh in the world amateur rankings, shot a faultless four-under 67 to add to his par round of 71 from the morning’s play.
That meant the Great Britain and Ireland squad member tied with Challenge Tour leader Julian Suri as leading qualifier from Gailes, and won a coveted players’ badge for Royal Birkdale in two weeks’ time.
The son of immediate past PGA Scotland captain Stuart Syme, Connor joins former champions Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, and US-based tour players Russell Knox and Martin Laird in a five-strong Scottish contingent at Royal Birkdale, with the chance of more to come from late qualifiers at the Irish and Scottish Opens.
“I played awesome, especially to be bogey-free this afternoon,” he said afterwards.
“It is amazing to be in The Open and I was thinking about that out there even though I was trying to stay in the moment.
“The first Open my dad took me to was at Royal Troon in 2004 when I was just nine. I was buzzing after getting Phil Mickelson’s ball at St Andrews in 2005.”
Syme got in with a decent par round in his morning 18 with birdies at 15 and 16 and then opened the afternoon with seven consecutive pars before a three at the eighth.
The surge that got him into the Open was the birdie-eagle combination at 13 and 14, taking him level with Suri, who had been one of the first finishers with a 36-hole four-under aggregate of 138.
There was a four-way play-off for the third and final place involving another Scot, Kirkhill’s Paul Shields, but Australia’s Ryan McCarthy birdied the first play-off hole to take the last precious place.
Marc Warren, who qualified at Gailes in 2014, had been well placed at two-under with seven to play but had a huge collapse, bogeying five of six holes to fall out of the qualifying picture.