PORTHCAWL, Wales – Scotland’s Connor Syme will hope to defy the British Amateur curse and win his opening match tomorrow at Royal Porthcawl. Syme topped the 36-hole qualifying and enters the match play stages as the top seed.
Eighteen players in 32 years who led or shared the lead in British Amateur qualifying since it was introduced in 1983 have lost their first match. Syme will want to emulate Philip Parkin (1983), Warren Bladon (1996) and Matteo Manassero (2009). They all won after taking medalist honors.
The 21-year-old returned a 3-under-par 68 at Pyle & Kenfig to go with a similar score at Royal Porthcawl yesterday. His 6-under 136 was two shots better than countryman Alasdair McDougall. France’s Antoine Rozner and Harry Hall of England shared third place on 140.
“The goal at the start of the week is to try and make the top 64, and the further up the leaderboard you go is a bonus,” Syme said. “I felt really comfortable in what I was doing today – a bogey-free round, which was nice in tough conditions, so I’m delighted.”
Syme has form in this championship. He reached the semifinals at Royal Portrush two years ago, but lost to fellow Scot and eventual winner Bradley Neil.
“I’ve had good success going into the match play before. I was the semifinalist in 2014 in The Amateur, and so I kind of draw from that. I won the Australian Amateur in January, which was a match-play event as well and I feel pretty comfortable in match play – the head-to-head environment.”
Rozner is hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Romain Langasque and make it back-to-back French wins. He also has form.
“I feel good,” he said. “I love match play and I know what I have to do to win a match. I made it to the quarterfinal last year, and I won (The French Amateur) the last two years, so I know what you have to do to be competitive in these matches. I will do my best on every shot and we’ll see!”
All three members of last year’s victorious Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team in the draw qualified. Scots Ewen Ferguson and last year’s runner-up Grant Forrest both shot 144, 2 over. Ireland’s Jack Hume, the highest ranked player at No. 10 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was two shots worse on 146.
None of the 11 Americans in the field qualified. Mike McCoy, a member of last year’s U.S. Walker Cup team, came closest. He returned a 6-over 148 total to miss the cut by a stroke.
Jake Fendt, a rising sophomore at Kennesaw State, got a harsh introduction to links golf. The Suwanee, Ga., native opened with a 1-under 70 at Kyle & Penfig but went 20 shots worse at Royal Porthcawl with a 90.
Eighty players qualified for the match play stages with scores of 147, 5 over, or better.