ALEXANDER WILSON overcame a dramatic drop in temperature to be amongst a big band of Lothians winners on the opening day of the Scottish Boys Championship at Monifieth.
This time last week the 18-year-old was playing in short sleeves in Spain, where he’s the club champion at Valderrama, but Wilson needed numerous layers to combat the bitter cold on the Angus coast as he launched his title bid with a 2 and 1 victory over Balmore’s Jack McKenna.
“I only came back to Scotland on Saturday night and it’s certainly a lot colder than it was in Spain,” said The Renaissance Club member. “I had four layers on at the start, though I was able to take one off towards the end when it began to feel a bit warmer.”
Three up at the turn, Wilson’s lead had been cut to just one with three to play by McKenna, the younger brother of Scotland international Fraser.
Back-to-back birdies, however – one from 25 feet and the other from around 30 feet – sealed the win and a second-round meeting today against No. 4 seed George Burns from Williamwood.
“This is my last year in the event,” added Wilson, who lost to Craig Howie, the winner 12 months ago, in the second round at Dunbar in 2011.
“I didn’t miss many fairways and also hit a lot of greens, which is something you have to do on this course.”
His parents live in Spain, close to Valderrama, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 1997 and was the long-time home of the Volvo Masters. “I won the club championship there last year with scores of 76 and 77 off the back tees in windy conditions,” said the plus one-handicapper.
Currently a pupil at Loretto School, Wilson has just secured a scholarship at the University of California in Berkeley.
“The golf team is ranked No. 1 in America and four of the players are in the US Walker Cup squad,” he revealed. “Testing myself against the best will be ideal.”
Based on the fact he’s seeded, Tantallon’s Calum Hill holds the best chance of providing a Lothians winner this week.
A semi-finalist two years ago, he also negotiated his first hurdle, but the 17-year-old had to dig deep to shake off Cochrane Castle’s Craig Orr at the 19th. Two up at the turn, Hill lost the tenth and 11th, where Orr birdied, then had to hole a nerve-wracking three-footer for a half at the last.
A par-4 proved good enough for Hill at the first extra hole and he now faces Jamie Beedie of Montrose Mercantile.
“I’m quite happy with that start,” said Hill, who was watched by coach Alan Murdoch, the Kings Acre pro and head of the Merchiston Castle Academy.
Murray Naysmith, another Tantallon member though entered out of home club Dalmahoy, produced sub-par figures as he swept aside Newton Stewart’s Robert Hughan.
“That’s my first win in this event at the third attempt,” said 15-year-old Naysmith after a 5 and 4 success. “I got off to a slow start, but back-to-back wins at the sixth and seventh set me up and I was three- under for the holes played.”
Asked what advice he’d been given for this week by coach Dean Robertson, the scratch player added: “He simply told me to keep it in play.”
Other Lothians winners on the opening day included Craigmillar Park’s Fraser Christie and Naysmith’s Dalmahoy clubmate Callum Cochrane.
Christie, who reached the fifth round at Murcar 12 months ago, overcame an early rise to beat Barassie’s Euan Henderson in the first match out at 6.45am.
Also playing in one of the early ties, Lothians Boys’ champion Cochrane won on the 17th as well against Cruden Bay’s Declan Addison.
Later in the day, the Lothians contingent in the second round was swelled by Lewis Reid, yet another Tantallon hopeful, though one of the North Berwick club’s representatives, Euan Bowden, did fall at the first hurdle to seed Alan Waugh from Cowglen.
Either Musselburgh’s Cameron Blair and Scott Gillies of Gullane will definitely be tomorrow’s third round as they now meet each other after first-day successes.
Whitekirk’s Ross Millar also progressed, though in his case it was without hitting a blow after the withdrawal of Pumpherston’s Adam Loch.