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Balcomie Links record falls three times in a few hours at Scottish Amateur

David Rudd
David Rudd

Longniddry’s David Rudd likes to think of himself as a bit of a Crail specialist and the 19-year-old certainly confirmed that on the opening day of the Scottish Amateur Championship at the Fife links yesterday.

Rudd, a top five finisher this year in the Battle Trophy, Crail’s open strokeplay event played every April, romped to a record 60 on the Balcomie Links to take a one-stroke advantage from the first day of qualifying for the historic championship, being played on a Fife links for the first time since 1976.

That was the third time in the space of a few hours that the record for the great old links fell. John Paterson, the former Scottish Boys Strokeplay champion from the New Club, St Andrews, started with a 62 to beat the old mark of 63, before fellow Fifer Liam Duncan, from the Dunnikier Park club in Kirkcaldy, beat that by a stroke.

Finally Rudd, a Lothians County player, needed just 24 putts and had six threes in a row on his way to establish the new record at nine-under-par.

As luck would have it, the scorecard for the long-standing Balcomie record of 63 set by Ross Forgan – from May 2004 – had been out being re-framed and was only returned to the Crail clubhouse yesterday.

They may need to do more scorecard framing after today if the weather stays as benign as it was yesterday, with no wind on greens still softened from the recent heavy rains – the course was deluged as recently as Friday.

Rudd wasn’t caring as he took full advantage, his longest putt for his 11 birdies – he also had two bogeys – being only 20 feet.

Dunan – who returns to college in New Mexico as soon as next week – had no bogeys in his round of 61, while Paterson eventually was one of six players on seven-under 62s.

Scotland Under-18 cap Gregor was predictably the low Graham for the first day, the Blairgowrie teenager returning a six-under 63 on the Balcomie to finish in the top ten after the first day of qualifying.

That was two better than Dad Stuart, who bogeyed his last two holes “after getting a wee bit excited thinking about seven-under”, he admitted later.

The youngest of the family Connor, at 12 surely the youngest ever to play in 97 years of the men’s national championship, was on the longer Craighead Links – where the matchplay stages will be held from tomorrow on – but his two-over 74 was a superb effort, the highlight being a wedge to three feet for a birdie at the third hole.

Connor won easily on style points for his grey tartan trousers, and was far from downhearted after his round.

“I need to go low tomorrow now to qualify but I felt I played pretty well today,” he said afterwards. “I’m annoyed that my Dad shot such a good score, though.”

Other notables for the first day included a fine 64 by the champion at Carnoustie in 2008 Callum Macaulay, re-instated as an amateur this year but playing only his second competitive event sin ce his return.

“I played the Tennant Cup last month but 72 holes in two days just about wiped me out,” he admitted. “I hadn’t done that for a good while.

“The best part of the day was playing without a bogey, it’s been a long time since I did that as well. They plan is mostly just to get to the matchplay; you can make a few mistakes then and still compete.”

Best on the Craighead for the day were the five-under 67s from Angus Carrick, the former Stirling University student and son of the Walker Cup player David, who is now a trainee actuary based in Edinburgh, and Rob McGregor, an exile based at the Tehidy Park Club in Cornwall.

Defending champion Euan McIntosh, who won the title at 49 last year at Blairgowrie and is aiming to be the first to repeat since the last man older than him to win – the great Charlie Green in 1982 and 1983 – is outside the 64 qualifying places after the first day after a one-over round of 73 on Craighead.