Battle Trophy win sets up Connor for Lytham test

Connor Syme with the Battle Trophy he picked up at Crail.
Connor Syme with the Battle Trophy he picked up at Crail.

Connor Syme reckons his golf game is in great shape as he heads into a busy summer season.

The stats would certainly back that up, with the Drumoig 21-year-old recently reaching the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings and winning the Battle Trophy at Crail last weekend.

The win over Craighead Links was made all the more impressive given that Syme hit the front after the first round and refused to let his lead slip until he picked up the famous old trophy.

Last year’s Australian Amateur champion took a 10-shot lead into the final round, having opened with scores of 68-68-70.

Despite a closing round of 79 as strong winds whipped around the course, a composed final few holes saw him close out the tournament by five shots from Clydebank & District’s Steven Maxwell.

It sets him up nicely for next weekend’s appearance at the Lytham Trophy, an event considered one of the biggest on the amateur circuit.

“I was delighted to win at Crail because I’ve come close the past two years,” said Syme.

“I wanted to do well in it because it’s great preparation for Lytham and then the Irish Amateur.

“But it was a really tough test with the conditions.

“The first day was nice but maybe a bit cloudy.

“Sunday was tough and the wind really picked up, but I still played well down the back nine.

“Coming back in level par probably won me the tournament because I was able to pull away.

“The greens were really difficult and putting is hard enough in the wind as it is.

“It was one of those rounds where you have to stick to the game plan.”

The Battle Trophy has become a decent stepping stone for leading amateurs with a few going on to join the professional ranks.

Local golfers George Murray, who has played on the European Tour, and James White, who played on the Alps Tour, are past winners, with last year’s victor Grant Forrest joining the professional ranks in late 2016.

“When you have Lytham and then the Irish Amateur coming up it’s always good for us to play Crail, as you can see by some of the names who have won it.

“You know Crail is going to give you that test so it’s a bit of a no brainer.

“The guys who are up at the top at the competition are all playing good golf.”

Congratulating the winner, Crail Golfing Society captain Pam Smith said: “The golf has been a real inspiration and the competitors have also impressed with their behaviour and good manners.

“We are delighted that the trophy will have a local name on it and be associated with a golfer destined for success.”

With the Battle Trophy in the bag, attention now turns to the Lytham Trophy, played over Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club from May 5.

The event attracts a top class amateur field, with previous winners of the Sputnick Trophy travelling from the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and South Africa.

But now inside the top 10 in the world, other golfers should be fearing the Scot rather than vice-versa.

And Syme, who is closing in on a Walker Cup place, is confident he’s playing well enough to record back to back wins.

He added: “I’ve done a lot of good work with my dad (Stuart Syme) who’s my coach over the winter and I’m happy with where my long game is at the moment.

“We’re always working on my short game and putting and that’s something that keeps on improving.

“Lytham is one of the biggest events we play through the year and I’m going into it with the confidence of having just won.”