Survival of the fittest and bravest was the order of a brutal day for the opening rounds of the Scottish Boys’ and Girls’ Open Strokeplay Championships with wintry rain and sleet lashing the Angus coast for both venues.
The exposed Montrose links was battered by winds and rain throughout the day for the Boys’ Championship, in the second year since being moved from its previous date in July and being held with Angus for the second year in succession.
Meanwhile Monifieth Links, venue for the Boys’ Championship last year, is hosting the Girls’ where scoring was equally as tough.
At Montrose two German entries made light of the conditions to post outstanding scores, with Patrick Schmuecking the only player able to match the par of 71 on the opening day.
The 17-year from Wiesbaden, currently ranked second in the German junior national squad, made the turn at three-over but came back strongly, birdieing three of the first four holes on the back nine before parring his way in for a one-shot lead over Scotland’s Calum Scott and fellow German Martin Maxilimilian Grundewald.
Scott, the young brother of Scottish amateur international Sandy and the winner of the Scottish Under-16 Open Championship last summer, matched Schmuecking’s back nine of 32, picking upo his third birdie at the last to finish with a 72.
Grundewald, from Dusseldorf, had earlier set the target for the field benefitting from the slightly calmer conditions of the early groups, his round highlight being back to back birdies on the fifth and sixth.
The best chance to beat par on the day at Montrose probably fell to Lenzie’s Ian Taggart, who was one-under with six to play and the wind at his back, but double-bogeyed 13 and then dropped another shot at the 15th. However 73 was still good for a share of fourth place after the first round.
The bets placed Angus contender was Royal Montrose’s Sean Logue with a seven-over 78, while present at the course was the Ryder Cup player and multiple European Tour champion Stephen Gallacher, keeping an eye on several of his Foundation players including his son Jack.
The 16-year-old battled through the conditions for a nine-over 80, which gives him a decent chance of making the halfway cut after today’s second round.
Conditions were scarcely any easier at Monifieth for the first round of the Scottish Girls’ Open, with driving wind and rain not letting up from when officials showed up at 6.30 am right through to the close of play.
Some clearing of rainwater from the greens was necessary during the day but like at Montrose there were no delays, and some outstanding scoring despite the challenging conditions.
Wales’ GB&I girls squad player Ffion Tynan set the standard from the early starters with a real grinder of a one-over 74, with one sole birdie at the short 14th and just two bogeys, at the sixth and 13th.
Unsurprisingly that score stood up for most the day, finally being surpassed by Rosie Belsham’s 72, the sole round under par at either venue on the day.
The 17-year-old from Whitley Bay, who became the youngest-ever Northumberland County champion last year, birdied all three of the par fives on the outward half of the medal course and after a bogey five at the 10th, finished with eight successive pars.
Tucked in behind her after a level-par 73 was Natasha Slater, the highly-rated 17-year old from the Ulverston club in Cumbria. Slater’s double boegy six at the 10th was offset by birdies at the seventh and 11th to move her into second place.
Slater already has won a title north of the border, carrying off the Loretto School Scottish Under-14s championship four years ago at Bothwell Castle.
Scotland’s presence in the top ten comes from Cupar’s Evanna Hynd, the 2016 Fife Junior champion and Tier 1 Academy player shooting a three-over 76. Strathmore’s Kirsty Brodie, Lorna McClymont (Milngavie) and Swiss-based Cameron Neilson arec a shot further back on 77, with another Fifer, Eilidh Henderson, on five-over.
Scottish Girls matchplay champion Hannah Darling had an eight-over 81 to lie in a tie for 32nd position.