Connor’s success is a long time coming for the Home of Golf

Connor Syme has made great strides as an amateur - but has raised the bar and qualified for the Open Championship.
Connor Syme has made great strides as an amateur - but has raised the bar and qualified for the Open Championship.

North East Fife is known as the Home of Golf for good reason.

The sport was born and raised in an area which boasts the finest courses in such a condensed area as you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Fall out of your bed in the morning and the chances are you’ll roll up just a few yards short of an 18th pin.

But despite our courses and history, there’s been something lacking - a standout local golfer playing regularly along with the Rory McIlroys and Jordan Spieths of the world.

There’s never been a shortage of Scottish talent, but nobody from the north east of the Kingdom has broken out to compete with the best.

Drumoig’s Connor Syme is set to change that after really announcing himself this week following years of steady progress in the amateur ranks.

Syme won the Australian Amateur title in 2016, picked up the Crail Battle Trophy this year and has consistently been around various national squads.

But his achievement on Tuesday afternoon in winning up just one of three qualifying places at an Open Championship qualifier tops the lot.

How he did it, knowing he needed to pick up a few shots down the back nine at Gailes Links, before scoring a birdie on the 13th and then an eagle a hole later, showed nerve, awareness and skill as good as any pro.

He maintained his composure and tidied up his round on the final few holes to book a space at the greatest competition in golf at Royal Birkdale, looking down on a chasing pack including jealous European Tour veterans.

“There was a scoreboard after the tenth and knew I was in with a chance,” said Syme.

“I played a really good up and down on 12 for par which set me up for the birdie and the eagle.

“I hit a four iron on the par five 14th which left me around ten foot short; it’s as good as I’ve played any hole.”

Thoughts of playing the Open will have to stay at the back of Connor’s mind as he first has to play a European team tournament in Austria.

But there’s no doubting the excitement of what awaits once that event is done.

The Walker Cup hopeful added: “It’s always been an ambition of mine to play in a Major and I definitely went in looking to qualify.

“I spoke to Paul Lawrie afterwards, who’s going to be playing as well, and I’m looking to catch up with him and play nine holes.

“He’s a former winner himself so it doesn’t get much better than that.

“It’ll just be great to play the Open against all the top guys.”

A spokesman for Scottish Golf, the governing body for amateur golf in Scotland, was amongst those lining up to congratulate the Drumoig golfer. He said: “We want to wish Connor well at Royal Birkdale. It’ll be a valuable experience for him.”