Scottish Open field capitalises on fast-running Gullane

Duncan Stewart carded a second-round 64 at Gullane
Duncan Stewart carded a second-round 64 at Gullane
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Duncan Stewart reckons someone he knows could be in the money this weekend after placing a bet on the Scottish Open at a fast-running Gullane producing the first 59 in European Tour history.

The Kirkliston-based player joined in on a second successive low-scoring day in the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event as he carded a 64 to sit just outside the top 20 on six-under. That effort came after fellow Scot Connor Syme had set a new course record for the composite championship layout at the East Lothian venue with a scintillating eight-under-par 62.

“I know someone who has money on a 59 this week and I could see it happening,” said Stewart. “You need to get off to fast start here.

“The first few holes are the easier ones, especially in the flat calm. But coming home 15 is a chance and 16 is a chance of eagle.”

Stewart, who is attached to Turnhouse, came through a weekend qualifier at Longniddry to secure his spot in the star-studded field and is making the most of his opportunity back on the European Tour.

“It’s chance to transform the season,” he said. “I’m maybe in a different boat to the other guys who came through qualifying as I still have some status on the Tour. I have a bit of money up but a good week this week could make me decide to play a few more main tour events instead of the Challenge Tour.

“I should really be in Italy this week on the Challenge Tour but I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to play in my home event.

“I’ve been saying for a couple of months that a round like this has been coming and it’s arrived at a good time.”

Having struggled with his game in recent weeks, it was more like it from Stephen Gallacher as he carded a 66 to make the cut on four-under. The Bathgate man was six-under for the round after 16 holes before finishing bogey-bogey.

“I played a lot better today, though I still hit a few slack ones, including a poor tee shot into the thick stuff on the left at the last,” he said.

“It’s a case of getting the bad shot from being a world misser to the side of the fairway.

“I played great the first 16 holes today, not dropping a shot, having missed a couple of chances from inside ten feet at seven and eight.

“I played lovely from then on in and it’s just a pity that I got done in by a wind change at the 17th. Westy hit 6-iron and I went with 7-iron but it went 200 yards when I was trying to hit it 180 yards.”

Looking ahead to the weekend, Gallacher added: “Like any links course, you need a bit of wind. If you are sitting a bit back and have five or six-under in the wind, then you can move up the leaderboard a fair bit.”

Jamie McLeary also made it through on four-under but Peter Whiteford missed out after following his opening 65 with a 74 while Richie Ramsay and David Drysdale also suffered early exits.

Leading the home challenge on seven-under – six shots behind the leader, Englishman Robert Rock – are Syme and newly-crowned Irish Open champion Russell Knox.

It was a day to remember on his Scottish Open debut for Syme as the Fifer, who turned 23 on Wednesday, shot his course record, though it only stood for a few hours as Japan’s Hideto Tanihara came in with a 61 late in the day.

“I’ve had eight-under a few times, but that’s my lowest score,” said Syme, who finished runner-up in the Shot Clock Masters in Austria last month.

Rock, who hasn’t dropped a shot in 36 holes, leads by two from compatriot Tyrrell Hatton and Swede Jens Dantorp. Rickie Fowler, the 2015 winner here, is a shot further back but Phil Mickelson, the champion four years ago, missed the cut along with defending champion Rafa Cabrera Bello.