Double Scots Disappointment at Amateur / Howie Leads Sir Henry Cooper
The 36-hole final of the 117th Amateur Championship will take place at Royal Troon tomorrow between Alan Dunbar and Matthias Schwab, after Scotland’s brave double bid came up just short.
Bidding to set up the first all-Scottish final in The Amateur for over 100 years, Baberton’s Paul Ferrier and Jack McDonald of Kilmarnock (Barassie) both lost their semi-finals.
Following brilliant runs to the last-four, Ferrier was beaten by one of last year’s GB&I Walker Cup heroes, Northern Irishman Dunbar, while Schwab of Austria ended the hopes of local favourite McDonald.
Dunbar is looking to become the first Northern Irish player to win since Michael Hoey at Prestwick in 2001 and Schwab can become the first Austrian to lift The Amateur Championship trophy.
Schwab is six years Dunbar’s junior at age 17. He won the 2010 Austrian Amateur and has made the cut in the last two Austrian Opens on The European Tour.
After both Scots came through their quarter-final ties this morning, hopes were high of a remarkable final contest between two home players, for the first time since 1909.
Not since Stuart Wilson of Forfar triumphed in 2004 has a Scot claimed the prestigious title, a prize that offers spots in The Open, The Masters, traditionally, and the US Open in the next 12 months.
With Michael Stewart (2011) and James Byrne (2010) both beaten finalists in the event, Ferrier and McDonald were seeking to go one better.
Ferrier, the 23-year-old from the Lothians who has just returned from completing a four-year psychology degree in America, always faced a tough task against Dunbar.
The Scot lost the first and was two down at the turn as the Rathmore player showed his quality. Ferrier hauled himself back level with wins at 10 and 11, but he made mistakes coming home as he lost out 3&2 in the end.
It was still a great week for the 2007 Scottish Boys champion, who plans to turn professional and try his luck on mini-tours in America later this year. But he will rue the bogey he made at 15 to lose the hole after winning the 14th to get back to one down.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute,” Ferrier said. “I let it slip at 15 against Alan. Two down with three to play is always leaving you with a lot of work to do. I can take a lot from this heading into Regional Qualifying for The Open Championship at Goswick on Monday.”
McDonald, the 19-year-old University of Stirling student, had illustrated his battling qualities with a number of nail-biting wins this week and again he and Schwab could hardly be separated.
With former tour pro Dean Robertson, the Men's High Performance Golf Coach at Stirling, caddying for him and superb local support lining the fairways, the teenager was given every encouragement.
McDonald fought back from two down to level the contest with three holes left, but lost the 16th and the 18th, after driving into a bunker, to make his exit. Like Ferrier, it was still a superb week for the 2009 Scottish Boys’ Stroke Play winner.
“It was a tight match,” said McDonald, an R&A Scholar studying applied mathematics. “I’m proud of the way I stayed composed this week, especially in the match play stages. I never got ahead of myself all week. It’s been a big step up for me.”
Schwab has also made a big step up this week. He has legendary German coach Willie Hoffman to thank. Hoffman coached Bernhard Langer to two Masters’ titles, and made him one of the world’s best players.
“I drive to Munich once every two months to see him, and the rest of the time I send him videos,” Schwab said.
Both Ferrier and McDonald at least pocketed bronze medals for their efforts this week.
Tune into Sky Sports 3 at 11pm tonight for highlights of the quarter-final and semi-final action.
* At the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, Paul Lawrie Foundation Scottish Boys winner Craig Howie leads by one after the opening round.
The Peebles player opened with a three-under-par 69 in the famous Under-18 event, played over 72 holes of strokeplay at Nizels Golf Club, Kent.
Lawrence Allan (Alva), Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie) and Anthony Blaney (Liberton) share 11th place after 73s.
* It was a disappointing day for a number of Scotsmen in the second round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge, hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts at Macdonald Spey Valley, Aviemore.
Chris Doak is the best-placed Scot in a share of 13th at five-under-par, six behind the leader England's Sam Walker. Greig Hutcheon, Neil Fenwick, Chris Kelly, Stephen Gray, Raymond Russell, Gavin Dear and Scott Henderson were the only other home hopes to make the cut.
Two behind at the start of the day, Wallace Booth missed out by a shot after a 75. Among those to also make early exits were former winner Jamie McLeary, Lloyd Saltman, Scott Henry, David Law, Michael Stewart, James Byrne, Andrew McArthur and Callum Macaulay.
* Former Scottish Boys champion Paul Doherty earned £5,000 as runner-up in this week's EuroPro Tour event, the WSL Open at Collingtree Park GC, Northampton.