George Duncan drew on nerves of steel and a brilliant short game to achieve the biggest win of his golfing life today, lifting the Scottish Men’s Amateur title at Royal Aberdeen.
The 21-year-old from Windyhill defeated Nairn’s Andrew Burgess 3&1 in their 36-hole matchplay showdown after both players had produced impressive results to seal final spots.
With Burgess ending the hopes of hot favourite Connor Syme after firing a brilliant 66 for a one-hole victory in their semi-final, the Highlander was fancied to hold the edge in the final.
But Duncan battled back from two down after 13 holes to achieve a two-hole lead after the opening 18 holes and showed both resilience and a lack of nerves to never let his advantage slip.
The Dunbartonshire player, who has climbed to eighth place on the Scottish Golf Men’s Order of Merit and will now secure a world ranking by virtue of his success, consistently showed his skills around the greens after lunch before closing out the match when Burgess found trouble at the short 35th.
Duncan, who shares the same name as Scotland’s 1920 Open champion and former Ryder Cup captain but is no relation, was lost for words after his stunning achievement over the 2014 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open venue.
The college student at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee said: “I’m speechless, it’s the best feeling I’ve had in golf by a long shot. I just can’t believe I’ve won the Scottish Amateur, considering I didn’t even get past the second round last year in my first attempt.
“The final was the best I’ve struck it all this week and my short game really pulled it through for me. I just need to thank my putter, to be honest, which was brilliant.”
Aided by his father, George, on the bag, Duncan emulates Windyhill’s Andrew McArthur, who won the event in 2002, as well as other past winners like Colin Montgomerie and Stephen Gallacher.
“Sometimes my downfall is my nerves, but I loved it,” added George, who works with George Boswell and has won the last five Windyhill club championships. “I just told myself today to just enjoy it and don’t get angry if I hit a bad shot. Everyone usually says I have a good poker face, but my heart was going, especially down the back nine.”
For Burgess, 21, it was a case of what might have been having beaten South African Amateur champion Craig Ross and GB&I cap Syme, the reigning Australian Amateur winner.
The Armstrong State student in Georgia in the US added: “I’m obviously disappointed. I did really well to reach this far, and it was a really good week. I can’t really complain too much, the better man won on the day.
“George was very, very solid and didn’t let me in at all and I was just waiting for something, some sort of slip, that didn’t come. He is a really nice guy as well, a worthy winner this week.”
Burgess, who will also gain a ranking in the world standings, added: “I didn’t putt as well as I did on Friday, didn’t get much going and wasn’t really striking it as well as I was on Friday either. I don’t know what it was, I didn’t feel nervous out there, I just wasn’t as hot as I was yesterday.
“I’ll take a lot of confidence from this week, because I know I can compete with the best in Scotland. It just shows what matchplay does, after the round of my life yesterday.”
Scottish Golf would like to thank all at Royal Aberdeen GC for a superb week’s golf, with the course presented to all 256 players in fantastic condition and the club staff welcoming and helpful throughout.
Images: Kenny Smith