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Michael Smyth


by Bernie McGuire

 It has been much like the No. 272 bus.  You wait ages for the bus to arrive and two come at once.

 That was the scenario today at Crail Golfing Society when Royal Troon’s very affable Michael Smyth equalled the Balcomie Links course record with a nine-under par 60.

 Smyth, 33 recorded 10 birdies and dropped just one shot on day two of the 2019 Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship here at golf’s seventh oldest club.

 Less than 24-year hours, Longniddry’s David Rudd lowered the record set by Crail’s Ross Forgan back in May 2004.

 Ross’s wife, Yvonne who now words in office at Crail Golfing Society had been texting Ross to advise him firstly that two players early during Tuesday’s first round qualifier had matched his score of 62.

 There was then an Emoji reply of a ‘crying face’ when Ross was advised by Yvonne that Dunniker Park’s Liam Duncan had set a new Balcomie low of 61.

 It was later in day when Rudd signed for his 60 and by day’s end there had been actually six players shooting a score of 62 on the par-69 Balcomie layout.

 Day two of qualifying dawned with conditions bright but with the wind now clearly a factor as evident by the white-water breaking along both the St. Andrews Bay and Firth of Forth shoreline at Crail.

 However, the conditions played right into Smyth’s hands managing 11 one-putts in his round, including four in a row from ninth, and that’s also not counting chipping-in from off the green for a par at the par-4 8th hole.

 All up, Smyth had just 23 putts and that’s one fewer that Rudd but not that it matters with both signing for 60s.

 And Smyth, who now runs Smyth Links Golf in hosting visiting Americans to play some of the best links courses in Britain, admits he’s never previously tackled the two courses at golf's seventh oldest club.

 “I hate to say but I’ve never played before in my life here at Crail.   I’ve never played in the club’s Battle Trophy,” he said smiling.

 “So, really happy with my rounds.  It was club to a club-and-a-half wind today compared to yesterday

 “What clearly helped was six birdies from the sixth to 12th holes while I managed to chip-in on eight to save par.”

 Smyth arrived at Crail in pretty good form having shot a 64 last Saturday during a medal outing at Royal Troon.

 He said:  “The 64 was a great warm-up and what is good is that in my last six competitive rounds I am 28-under par which is not too bad.”

 Smyth also had a pretty decent Scottish Championship record heading into the knock-out stages having one reached the quarter-finals at Gullane in 2010.

 Atop of the board is Stuart McLaren, and with the 24-year old Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society golfer posting rounds of 68 and 61 to officially lead the 164-qualifiers into the match-play and knock-out stages of this year's championship