Bruntsfield Links duo Stuart McLaren and Eric McIntosh shine in Crail qualifier
In-form Stuart McLaren pipped his Bruntsfield Links clubmate Eric McIntosh in a low-scoring battle to be top qualifier in the Scottish Amateur at Crail.
McLaren, who won the East of Scotland Open at Lundin on his last visit to Fife, made 16 birdies in two rounds in carding rounds of 68 and 61. The latter was one outside the new course record for the Balcomie Links, but it was mission accomplished for the 25-year-old as he made up for last year’s disappointment at Blairgowrie by comfortably progressing to the match-play phase.
“Last year was the first time I had played in the event since 2013 due to the fact it had not fitted into my schedule as I tried to keep my other half happy,” said McLaren, the 2018 Lothains Order of Merit winner. “I am getting married in February, so I decided to play in every single Scottish Order of Merit event this year as it might be the last chance I get to do that.”
McLaren’s 12-under-par total left him a shot clear of both McIntosh and Peebles player Darren Howie.
McIntosh, the 2016 Scottish Boys champion, backed up his opening 62 on the Balcomie Links with a four-under 68 on the neighbouring Craighead course.
“I didn’t hit it that well today but managed to make four birdies in a row from the 11th as the putts started going in,” said the 20-year-old, who is heading into his junior year at Northwestern University in Illinois.
At the end of a successful couple of days for Lothians players, defending champion Euan McIntosh also progressed, as did Craigielaw’s Angus Carrick, who, like McLaren, works for Royal London in the Capital.
Mark Napier, McLaren’s conqueror in the recent Lothians final, also qualified comfortably.