Liam and Clara see off top-class fields to claim Scottish Strokeplay and St Rule Trophy respectively
By SCG Newsdesk
LIAM JOHNSTON and Clara Young enjoyed Sunday successes to seal a Scottish double in the Carrick Neill Scottish Men’s Open Championship and the St Rule Trophy.
The pair saw off the challenges of international fields to lift the prestigious amateur titles at Western Gailes and in St Andrews respectively.
In Ayrshire, Johnston overcame windy conditions to secure a two-shot success in the men’s strokeplay event, becoming the first Scot to win the coveted silverware since Wallace Booth in 2008.
Having won the African Amateur at Leopard Creek in March, the Dumfries & County player has strengthened his Walker Cup claims after landing his biggest win in the game to date. The 24-year-old, coached by James Erksine, posted closing rounds of 69 and 71 for a nine-under total, two ahead of fast-finishing Englishman Matthew Jordan from Royal Liverpool.
Peebles’ Craig Howie slipped to a closing three-over 74 but still finished in a tie for third on five-under alongside Australian David Micheluzzi. Drumoig’s Connor Syme ensured three Scots finished in the top five with his four-under total.
Johnston, who joins a winners’ list that includes recent champions Andy Sullivan, Tommy Fleetwood and Richie Ramsay, birdied three of his first six holes in the final round thanks to an expert short game and held on for glory.
“It was a grind,” he admitted. “It was windy all day, especially on the back nine in the final round.
“I would say the field was slightly stronger here than in South Africa so it’s definitely my biggest achievement to date. The Walker Cup is one of my main goals for the year, so to get a second win is huge. But I just need to keep going as there is still a lot of golf to be played.”
Meantime, Young produced a fine weekend’s work to secure a narrow one-shot success in the St Rule Trophy at the Home of Golf.
The North Berwick player, 20, fired rounds of 67 and 72 over the New Course on Saturday, before adding a 71 at the Old Course 24 hours later. Young’s 16-under total saw her edge out Australian Montana Strauss by a stroke, with overnight leader Gemma Clews from England two shots further back on 13-under.
Chloe Goadby of St Regulus shared fourth on 12-under, with Grantown-on-Spey’s Hannah McCook in a tie for seventh.
Young, coached by Kevin Craggs, became the fourth Scottish winner of the St Rule in the last six years, after Jessica Meek (2014), Ailsa Summers (2013) and Laura Murray (2012).
The team of McCook, Shannon McWilliam (Aboyne) and Eilidh Briggs (Kilmacolm) also won the team event.