Amateur record helps Australian to win
A SUPERB amateur course record 63 in yesterday morning’s third round helped young Australian Cameron John to a stunning four-shot victory in the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship at Gullane.
Playing in beautiful conditions which were more akin to his homeland than the East Lothian coastline, the 17-yearold from Melbourne held off a strong Scottish challenge from Grant Forrest and Craig Howie and fast finishing Irishman Stuart Grehan to take the biggest title of his career, finishing with a final round 68 to post a 15-under par aggregate of 269.
John, the reigning Victorian Amateur champion, made his move with a flawless eight-birdie haul to move into a two-shot lead ahead of overnight leader Forrest going into the final round, and held his nerve despite late bogeys on 14 and 15. Playing links golf for the very first time this week, his knock-down approach shot from 97 yards to set up a birdie from two feet at the last, was played in his words, “like a true Scotsman”, to round off the championship in some style, with shades of Rickie Fowler’s final hole birdie in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Gullane nearly a year ago.
The Australian was vying for the lead with Forrest (Craigielaw) for much of the final day, and with the East Lothian man getting off to a flying start in the afternoon with birdies on each of the first four holes, it looked like the local support was in for a thrilling finish. But a costly double-bogey from a loose tee shot on the 7th hole damaged Forrest’s chances, as he eventually had to settle for a share of second place with Ireland’s Grehan, who produced an excellent final round 66.
Peebles’ Craig Howie, second in the Welsh Stroke Play last week, put himself into contention with a third round 65, matched by Drumoig’s Connor Syme as a clutch of Scots battled to become the first home player to take the title since Wallace Booth eight years ago.
Howie couldn’t quite keep up his morning momentum, posting a two-under 69 in the final round to clinch fourth place on 10-under, one clear of Syme, while joint overnight leader Sandy Scott (Nairn) signed off with a one-over 72 to share sixth place with English duo George Bloor and Adam Chapman.
“I’m certainly pretty happy with that performance. It was a lot of fun out there,” said the new champion, who had made the trip to Scotland with several of his Golf Australia colleagues.
Forrest, took the positives from his performance. “A win would have been great but I just need to make a few less bogeys, and I’m feeling confident going into the next few weeks with some big events coming up,” he said.