Liam Johnston and Clara Young enjoyed Sunday successes to seal a Scottish double in the Carrick Neill Scottish Men’s Open Championship and the St Rule Trophy.
The pair saw off the challenges of international fields to lift the prestigious amateur titles at Western Gailes and in St Andrews respectively.
In Ayrshire, Johnston overcame windy conditions to secure a two-shot success in the Men’s stroke play event, becoming the first Scot to win the coveted silverware since Wallace Booth in 2008.
Having won the African Amateur at Leopard Creek in March, the Dumfries & County player has strengthened his Walker Cup claims after landing his biggest win in the game to date. The 24-year-old, coached by James Erksine, posted closing rounds of 69 and 71 for a nine-under-total, two ahead of fast-finishing Englishman Matthew Jordan from Royal Liverpool.
Peebles’ Craig Howie slipped to a closing three-over 74 but still finished in a tie for third on five under alongside Australian David Micheluzzi, whose hopes were ended after he sliced out of bounds onto the railway line at 17. Drumoig’s Connor Syme ensured three Scots finished in the top five with his four-under total.
Johnston, who joins a winners’ list that includes recent champions Andrew Sullivan, Tommy Fleetwood and Richie Ramsay, birdied three of his first six holes in the final round thanks to an expert short game and held on for glory.
“It was just a grind all day, to be honest,” he admitted. “It was a windy all day, especially on the back nine in the final round.
“I feel like this game, once you get to the upper levels, is all about self-belief and knowing you can do it. The win earlier in the year in South Africa definitely helped me to stay calm today.
“I would say the field was slightly stronger here than in South Africa so it’s definitely my biggest achievement to date. The Walker Cup is one of my main goals for the year, so to get a second win is huge. But I just need to keep going as there is still a lot of golf to be played.”
Western Gailes, which hosted Rory McIlroy when Ireland won the European Amateur Team title at the venue 10 years ago, proved a superb host for the event with the links in excellent order.
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.
Meantime, Young produced a fine weekend’s work to secure a narrow one-shot success in the St Rule Trophy at the Home of Golf.
The North Berwick player, 20, fired rounds of 67 and 72 over the New Course on Saturday, before adding a 71 at the Old Course 24 hours later. Young’s 16 under total saw her edge out Australian Montana Strauss by a stroke, with overnight leader Gemma Clews from England two shots further back on 13 under.
Clews, who set a new record over the New Course on Saturday after her stunning 65, held a four-shot lead going into the final round, but her 78 saw Young, at college at the University of Missouri, overcome the deficit. Chloe Goadby (St Regulus) shared fourth place on 12 under, with Grantown on Spey’s Hannah McCook tied seventh.
Young, coached by Kevin Craggs, builds on her Scottish Ladies Amateur success aged only 18 at Monifieth in 2015 and becomes the fourth Scottish winner of the St Rule in the last six years, after Jessica Meek (2014), Ailsa Summers (2013) and Laura Murray (2012).
The team of McCook, Shannon McWilliam (Aboyne) and Eilidh Briggs (Kilmacolm) also won the team event at the St Rule.
Photos: Derek McCabe