Rising Lothians star Connor Wilson is off to a promising start in a bid to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Stephen Gallacher.
Twenty-three years after Gallacher won the same event at Paisley, 17-year-old Wilson opened with a two-under-par 68 at Gleneagles to sit one off the lead in the Carrick Neil Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship.
It was a brilliant effort considering that the Castle Park player was four-over-par after just five holes in a troublesome breeze on the King’s Course at the Perthshire resort.
Wilson, winner of the Scottish Boys Championship at Moray last month, repaired that early damage with seven birdies, including five in the last seven holes as he came home in 31.
“I’m pleased with that score, especially after I was really struggling at the start,” he admitted afterwards. “I holed a couple of good putts, the best of which was a 35-footer up the hill at the 17th.”
Wilson is a product of the Stephen Gallacher Foundation and won its flagship event at Macdonald Cardrona near Peebles earlier in the year.
“I played a practice round with Stephen at The Renaissance Club earlier in the summer,” he revealed of the role Gallacher is playing in his development.
“It was good to see how he does things, especially around the greens.”
Wilson’s effort was matched by on-form Turnhouse player Euan McIntosh in his bid to land a fourth straight title triumph.
“Not bad,” said the 49-year-old of his start, “especially when I didn’t get to hit any balls before I went out due to the fact it took me 40 minutes to get parked!
“It was a bit funky at the start but, after five holes, I was okay, though I had 35 putts in that score.”
Nurtai Saldarov, a member at Craigielaw who hails from Kazakhstan, produced a strong finish as he joined Wilson and McIntosh in opening with a sub-par effort.
Saldarov, who lifted the Stuart Cup as leading qualifier in the Lothians Championship at Luffness earlier in the month, birded the 14th, 16th and 18th as he signed for a 69.
Barassie’s Euan Walker finished birdie-birdie on his 23rd birthday as he set the pace along with Yorkshireman Sam Rook.