Kilmacolm’s Matthew Clark set a new course record at Nairn of nine-under-par 62 as he surged to the top of the stroke play leaderboard at the Amateur Championship.
On a day when the top 64 scores go into the match play stages, nine birdies and nine pars took the 39-year-old bank manager to the top of the leaderboard on eight-under overall and a shot ahead of England’s Jack Dyer.
Overnight leader, Nairn’s very own Calum Scott is thrilled to have qualified as well, adding a one-over 72 to an opening 67, to sit fifth on the board by the time he walked off. His three under par score was five behind red-hot Clark.
Scotland’s Gregor Tait, who plays at Aldeburgh in Suffolk, and Irishman Luke O’Neill were placed between Dyer and Scott on four under par.
A round two card countback was used for the first time to ensure 64 players progressed to the match-play draw.
Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes, except the final which is contested over 36 holes.
The cut mark to split the top 64 sliced through the hefty field on six over par.
Scottish contenders chasing the prizes
Seventeen Scots made the cut with Clark, Scott and Tait joined by John Paterson (New Club St Andrews), Jamie Roberts (Muckhart), Andrew Ni (Murrayfield), Cameron Adam (Royal Burgess), Lewis Irvine (Kirkhill), Rory Franssen (Auchterarder), George Burns (Williamwood), Ben Murray (Portlethen), Andrew Davidson (Crail), Darren Howie (Peebles), Connor Wilson (Castle Park), Ruben Lindsay (Turnberry), Derek Paton (Dunnikier Park), Jamie Mann (Close House).
Record-breaker Clark has his eyes on the prize
Stunning pace-setter Clark was happy to have put his experience to perfect use.
He said: “I’ve never qualified for the match play but I’ve played in the championship enough times.
“As you can see, I’m getting old enough when I’m against some of these younger lads. My game was trending, I think is the current word.
“It’s a nice place to get a course record, but I think you’d give that and the 62 up to hold the trophy on Saturday.
“That’s what we’ve all come here for and they’ll all be gunning for the guy who did something good today.
“There’s a long way to go and there’s a lot of talented players here so let’s see how it goes.”
Expectations rose after day one for Scott
Calum Scott, 17, admits the limelight from being the main local may have dented his second day form in the absence of his elder brother, Sandy.
The 22-year-old holds the World Amateur Golf Ranking of seven but a wrist injury saw him withdraw from these Championships on Sunday night.
The aim for Calum Scott, who was looking for a caddie for the next day of action, was to reach the match play and he got there in impressive style.
Hitting the range was next target for Scott
Speaking just after coming off the course, he instantly turned his attention to areas to sharpen up on.
He said: “I scrambled pretty well and holed some good putts.
“I just need to work a little on my lag putting and get it tighter. My swing also feels a little bit out of sorts, so I will probably go to the range and try and fix that.
“My game overall feels good though, so I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am really happy with top five.
“I think it’s hard to follow up with a score like I achieved on Monday (a 67), especially on such a tough day, with expectations there.
Magical Monday put Scott on the way to match play stages
“I am really happy to make the cut here at my home club with a bit of pressure there. That pressure was taken away with Monday’s good score.”
Scott’s club-mate Fraser Fotheringham missed the cut with a nine over par score overall.
That was despite a late surge of five birdies in the last 10 holes, which pushed him up 39 places. He ended up only three shots below the cut line.
Huge lure for the weekend winner
The winner come Saturday night won’t just collect the silverware.
He will also get exemptions to The Open Championship, The US Open and the Masters as well as a place on a European Tour event.
- See the Press and Journal website for more details and photographs from the Amateur Championship at Nairn.