Fifer Connor Syme clinches Open spot at Gailes Links

Connor Syme
Connor Syme has been an avid spectator at Open Championships for the past 13 years

Fife amateur Connor Syme secured his place at this month's Open with a four-under-par score of 138 at the final qualifying series at Gailes Links.

The 21-year-old fired a bogey-free afternoon round of 67 to follow his morning score of 71 to grab one of the three spots at the Ayrshire coast.

He said: "I have always spoken about how amazing it would be to play in the Open, especially as an amateur and the experience you would gain from it.

"It's just a class event."

America's Julian Suri also qualified from the 72-strong field with a four-under tally at the event, one of seven final qualifying tournaments.

The 26-year-old is the current leader on the European Challenge Tour and insists his game is perfectly set up for the Lancashire links of Royal Birkdale.

"I'm excited but I'm there to win a tournament," explained the exuberant Floridian.

"I think the build-up will be exciting and there will be a lot of adrenaline going but once I get a club in my hand that's what I know what to do. From there it's just back to basics."

There was heartache, though, for Cambuslang golfer Paul Shields, who lost out in a four-man play-off along with Martin Bodel Oveson from Sweden and Mark Young from Clitheroe after Tasmania's Ryan McCarthy rolled in an eight-foot putt at the first extra hole to secure the final berth at Birkdale in two weeks' time.

"It was an absolute slog trying to keep dry," Syme told BBC Scotland after his rounds played in driving wind and rain.

"I had my caddy, Tim, on the bag and he helped keep me dry and positive when I had to be. I have been coming here (to qualify) for the last three years and I thought this was the best chance. I have been playing pretty solid this year without excelling."

Syme has had a stellar career in the amateur ranks and won the Australian Amateur Championship early in 2016 but insists he is in no rush to make the leap towards the professional game.

"I'm probably going to go to Tour School as an amateur this year," said the Drumoig player.

"I am not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to do it. If it happens, it happens. If I get some stats there then I will go professional. If not, I will look at next year where I will take more of an opportunity to play in a few more pro events if it's possible, then I would turn pro definitely at the end of 2018."

Syme was on the books of Queen of the South as a youngster but was drawn to golf over football because his father is a professional instructor.

"My dad is obviously delighted I made the decision for golf and he always thought I would do so," he said. "Hopefully I have made the right choice.

"I have been going to the Open since 2004 at Troon. Me and my dad always went, normally on the Friday as there are more golfers, and I always managed to get a T-shirt. It's special."

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