Thursday, June 01, 2017

Teenager Jamie among favourites for Scottish men's amateur stroke-play
Teenager Jamie Stewart hopes to maintain his purple patch of form at this week’s Carrick Neill Scottish Men’s Open Championship as the home hopefuls seek an elusive win.

Just over the fence from where the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open will be contested at Dundonald Links in July, a strong international field of 144 players chase the prestigious stroke play title at Western Gailes from Friday until Sunday (June 2 to 4).
Stewart, pictured, a 17-year-old from the Old Ranfurly club in Renfrewshire, will tee up in positive mood as arguably the most in-form Scottish player having made an impressive step up to the men’s game.  Indeed, Stewart has catapulted 128 places up this week’s World Amateur Golf Ranking to just outside the top 350.
Having produced a storming 11-under-par weekend to finish joint runner-up at last week’s equivalent event in England, the Brabazon Trophy, Stewart is on a high, building on a third-place finish at the African Amateur, seventh at the Lytham Trophy and second at the Scottish Boys’ Open Stroke Play in 2017.
“I’ve had a lot of top three’s but not quite the win yet,” said Stewart, last year’s Scottish Golf Boys’ Order of Merit champion. “It was a good weekend at the Brabazon. It was my best result as an amateur, finishing second in an A-class field. To think I was outside the cut at one point, five over with six holes to play in the second round. The difference was my putting, to be honest. I really started holing some long putts.
“Liam Johnston was on my bag for the final round and I told him over the first five holes I wasn’t comfortable, whether that was nerves or not, and I made two bogeys. I wasn’t hitting good shots, but I just told myself to be patient and find some momentum. I started making birdies and things took off. I was a wee bit gutted I didn’t win, but hopefully I can do it this week.”
No Scot has won the event since Wallace Booth at The Duke’s in 2008, but Stewart is joined by a number of home players in seeking to end that run, among them European Amateur team winners from last summer, Craig Howie (Peebles), Connor Syme (Drumoig) and Sandy Scott (Nairn).
In a Walker Cup year, it’s a chance for all GB and I players to catch the eye, including top Irishman Stuart Grehan, but leading names from the likes of Australia and South Africa will be out to deny them. Brabazon winner, the South African, Kyle McClatchie is seeking the English-Scottish double, while leading Australian duo Harrison Endycott and Travis Smyth tee up seeking to emulate their victorious countryman at Gullane last year, Cameron John.
The event boasts a strong past winners’ list, including Andrew Coltart, Alastair Forsyth, Richie Ramsay, Tommy Fleetwood and Andrew Sullivan.
“The Scottish field this week is probably better than the English, to be honest,” feels Stewart. “I’m looking forward to it – I think if I play well I’ll be in contention. But I really need to keep my head down, go through my numbers on each hole, don’t get carried away and take one hole at a time. I played a practice round with a member on Tuesday, as I don’t have much experience of the course.”
Entry is free to all spectators, while those not attending can follow the scoring online via Scottish Golf’s new-look Championships page.
Carrick Neill is recognised in the market as one of the UK’s leading providers of golf insurance for both golf clubs and golfers alike. The company has a long association with Scottish Golf and became official sponsors of the Scottish Men’s Open Championship in 2010.



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