Caolan Rafferty led the way after the second stroke play qualifying round in The 122nd Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s and Prince’s today, with eight Scots also securing their place in the knockout stage.
The 25-year-old Irishman carded a 10-under-par 62 to match Kevin McAlpine’s Amateur Championship qualifying score on the Old Course at St Andrews in 2004. Richard Finch posted the lowest qualifying score with a 61 at Pyle & Kenfig in 2002. Rafferty also broke the course record of 64 at Prince’s set yesterday by Gisli Sveinbergsson.
Rafferty finished a shot clear of Italy’s Alberto Castagnara. The 20-year-old Italian carded a two-under-par round of 68 to finish on nine-under-par and secure his place in the match play stage which gets underway at the renowned Sandwich links tomorrow.
One shot further back was English international Harry Ellis. The 21-year-old former English Amateur champion produced seven birdies on his way to a five-under-par 65 at the same venue.
Harrison Endycott, who was part of the winning Australian team in last year’s Eisenhower Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico, carded three birdies on the back nine on his way to a 65 at Royal St George’s and a seven-under-par total which was later matched by Welshman Evan Griffith.
Endycott’s countryman Zach Murray was among a clutch of players who finished on six-under-par including the current European Amateur champion Luca Cianchetti and his fellow Italian Stefano Mazzoli, who won the title in 2015. Balmore’s Chris Maclean and Swede Oliver Gillberg were on the same mark.
Craig Howie (Peebles) and Sandy Scott (Nairn), both European Amateur winners with Scotland last year, finished on five under, with Kirkhill’s Craig Ross and Euan Walker (Kilmarnock Barassie) qualifying on three under, the latter helped by a superb second-round 66. Anglo-Scot Ryan Lumsden also progressed on two under.
The cut for the championship fell at one-under with 77 players qualifying, with Glencruitten’s Robert MacIntyre – last year’s runner-up – and Drumoig’s Connor Syme both on the mark.
Liam Johnston, Jamie Stewart and Rory Franssen were among the Scots to miss out, as well as Jeff Wright after his fine start, while Aussie Ben Ferguson, who has Scottish parents, made it through on five under.
“It’s match play and anyone can beat anyone,” said Maclean, who has enjoyed a solid season. “If you’ve made the cut you are good enough to beat anyone else that has made the cut. The field is really strong – it’s one of the best fields I will play in all year.”
Asked his thoughts on winning to seal an Open place, the University of Stirling student added: “The Open for me is just the absolute test of golf. The Open is the one I would love to play in. Especially at Royal Birkdale – that would be unbelievable.”
Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil won the title in 2014, with his now fellow Challenge Tour player Grant Forrest runner-up in 2015, as Scotland seek to continue their recent success in The Amateur.
Lanarkshire Secure Narrow Triumph in Boys Area Team
There was glory for Lanarkshire in Sunday’s Scottish Boys Area Team Championship at Stranraer, retaining their trophy by a narrow margain.
The quartet of Lewis Irvine, Greg Dalziel, Kieren McAllister and Scott Thomson emerged victorious by just a shot (+16) in glorious conditions on the south-west coast.
Dunbartonshire were forced to settle for second place, while Fife edged out Renfrewshire for third spot.
Only three shots separated the top four sides as the title went to the wire. In the morning foursomes, Irvine and Dalziel shone with a superb 67, before also adding individual 75s in the afternoon. McAllister’s 73 though ultimately proved key.
Lanarkshire are enjoying a purple patch in the event, having won at Grangemouth last year, and finishing runner-up to Lothians in 2015.