Stuart McLaren made home advantage count at Bruntsfield Links to lift the Stuart Cup as leading qualifier for this week’s Lothians Championship at the Capital course.
McLaren opened with a bogey-free four-under 66 before adding a 67 to finish seven shots clear of the field in the battle for 16 spots.
“In the first round, I hit the ball as solid as I have all season with only two greens missed and most approaches inside 20 feet,” said McLaren.
“After a three-putt bogey at the first in the second round, I bounced back with a birdie at the fourth then made three birdies in a row from the eighth, which settled the nerves.
“It is nice to get my name on the Stuart Cup and know any game is in good shape.”
McLaren now faces 2015 winner Sean Marc (Broomieknowe) in the match-play phase, which also features 2010 champion Allyn Dick (Kingsfield).
“I feel pretty confident going into next week,” added McLaren. “I’ve not been beaten round Bruntsfield since May last year in a match-play situation, so I am hoping that continues. However, I know it’s going to be a tough test from the start. Sean is a solid player, but I’m hoping my course knowledge will give me the advantage I need.”
Dick, who tied for second in the qualifying, faces Royal Musselburgh’s Stuart Blair in tomorrow night’s opening round.
First round: Chris Low (Tantallon) v Jamie Duguid (Dunbar); Stuart McLaren (Bruntsfield Links) v Sean Marc (Broomieknowe); Rob Paterson (Kilspindie) v Varun Varadharajan (Royal Burgess); Allyn Dick (Kingsfield) v Stuart Blair (Royal Musselburgh); Jordyn Rhind (Kingsfield) v Jamie Morris (Glencorse); Greg Thorburn (Newbattle) v Kenny Glen (Craigielaw); Ross Noon (The Renaissance) v Mark Napier (Turnhouse); Joe Lockie (Tantallon) v Rory Smith (Dalmahoy).