Am­a­teur record helps Aus­tralian to win

The Herald - Herald Sport - - GOLF - ED HODGE

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.

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