Seven boys from the South of Scotland made the long journey north to Lossiemouth to play in the Xact Scottish Boys Amateur Championship starting on Monday 2 July 2018. The format was two rounds of stroke play, one each over the Moray Old Course and the Moray New Course, with the top sixty four qualifiers progressing to the knock out stages.

Taylor Kerr (Thornhill) led the South boys off over the Old Course early on Monday morning. A good start with a birdie at the fourth hole should have settled his nerves but he dropped 4 shots over the next five holes to be out in 38. On the back nine he steadied the ship and birdied ten and seventeen to be home in 37 for a total of 75. Finlay Copland (D & G) dropped four shots going out but recovered well on the back nine to shoot one over par with one birdie and a respectable total of 76.

Playing out of Loretto School, Harry Austin, had a bad day at the office, after starting with a birdie, with 91 blows over the Old Course. Jamie Marchbank (D & G) had an up-and-down round. He started with a six at the opening par four but soon got his act together with birdies at six and seven but threw away all the good work with a triple bogey at eight to be out in 40. His back nine was just as inconsistent but two more birdies helped him to a total of 78.

Of the 135 competitors, Mitchell Cowie (D & C) had the perfect start over the New Course, three birdies in the first five holes but then proceeded to drop a shot at each of the next four holes to be out in 36, one over par. On the back nine he dropped four more shots and finished with 75.

Glen Irvine (D & G) playing over the Old Course never gave up and with a birdie at the ninth he was out in 44, nine over par. On the back nine his problems would not go away and he scored 43, seven over par and signed for 87. The final boy to tee off for the South contingent was Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) playing on the New Course. He played very consistently on the outward nine, with a birdie at the second, and was out in 39. Unfortunately he leaked a few shots on the way back to a 42 and a total of 81.

None of the South boys were completely out of it and a good score on Tuesday would see them qualify for the match play stages.

Taylor Kerr started his onslaught over the New Course on Tuesday with two birdies in the first three holes and then dropped shots at four, seven and eight to be out in 36, one over par. He dropped shots at thirteen, fourteen and sixteen before a welcome birdie at seventeen gave him a total of 75. Finlay Copland, also over the New Course, had a very disappointing outward nine with seven dropped shots for 42 but came back in 38 with a birdie at thirteen for 80.

Also over the New Course, Jamie Marchbank played very well to be out in 33, with two birdies at three and six, to be two under par. Unfortunately he found the inward nine more difficult dropping seven shots and only one birdie for a four over par total of 74. Mitchell Cowie started the more challenging Old Course with three birdies and two bogeys in his opening nine to be one under par but he found the back nine a more difficult test and finished with 80.

Glen Irvine, over the New Course, played well on the front nine but his chances of making the knock out stages were scuppered with a seven at the ninth and a front nine of 40. He dropped a further six shots and signed for 81. Callum McMillan birdied the first on the Old Course but his championship was effectively over when he dropped seven shots between seven and nine. Again on the back nine his one birdie at fourteen was offset by dropped shots at twelve, thirteen and eighteen and his championship finished with a disappointing 85.

The cut came at 156 and four boys , Taylor Kerr, Jamie Marchbank, Mitchell Cowie and Finlay Copland, qualified for the match play stages.

Individual Qualifying Scores (Old Course first)

148        Taylor Kerr (Thornhill) 75, 73

152        Jamie Marchbank (D&G) 78, 74

155        Mitchell Cowie (D&C) 75, 80

156        Finlay Copland (D&G) 76, 80

166        Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) 81, 85

168        Glen Irvine (D&G) 87, 81

91         Harry Austin (Loretto School) 91

In the First Round (last 64) of the Match Play

Jamie Marchbank won at 20th

Taylor Kerr won by 1 hole

Mitchell Cowie won at 19th

Finlay Copland lost 4 & 3

In the Second Round (Last 32)

Jamie Marchbank lost 7 & 6

Taylor Kerr lost by 2 holes

Mitchell Cowie won 2 & 1

In the Third Round (last 16)

Mitchell Cowie lost by 1 hole

All the boys gave a good account of themselves and the experience gained in playing in a National competition should stand them in good stead for Northern Counties League matches over the summer.