Wearing the kind of eye-wateringly luminous green shirt that made it look like he had been involved in a spillage at a toxic waste plant, Ryan Brown added his own splash of colour to proceedings at West Kilbride yesterday as the unheralded Fifer ambled into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Boys' Championship.
"Everybody seems to be wearing black," said the 16-year-old as he left the dazzled golf writers squinting with his shimmering sartorial statement. A 3 and 2 victory over the seeded Niall McMullen in round five was another statement of golfing intent from the Dunfermline teenager as his debut appearance in the blue riband event of the junior scene gathered further momentum.
Whether he can keep his glory run going remains to be seen but one person hoping he does could be the barman in the West Kilbride clubhouse. "My mum doesn't like watching me play golf as she thinks it puts me off so she's been in the clubhouse drinking wine," he added with a smile.
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His mother may not have see him hit a shot this week but his dad, Alfie, a handy plus-one handicapper himself, has witnessed every blow and must be liking what he sees. Well, most of the time. "He gives me the odd look now and then if I don't hit a decent shot," admitted Brown as he tried to mimic a paternal glower.
The three-handicapper will face an almighty test this morning when he squares up to the top seed, and reigning British Boys' champion, Ewen Ferguson in the last eight. A bogey on the 10th hole of his match with Scott McCandless left the tie all-square but Ferguson, a 17-year-old from Bearsden, quickly upped the ante and reeled off birdies at the 11th and 12th to take charge on his way to a 3 and 2 success. "I got a bit angry after that bogey and gave myself a bit of a kick to get me going," said Ferguson.
Ben Kinsley, the No.3 seed, certainly got going over the last four holes of his morning match with Robert Watson, with a quartet of birdies to win 3 and 1. However, his last-16 match against Duncan McNeill after lunch started with the sluggishness of a tortoise with a mild hangover as he slumped to bogeys on the opening two holes to fall behind.
A fine 3-wood into the third, which set up a conceded eagle, provided the eye-opener, though, and Kinsley won 4 and 5 to turn the tie around. A crucial birdie putt to halve the seventh, after McNeill had chipped in, safeguarded that slender lead before Kinsley, twice a semi-finalist, won the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th to surge to a 5 and 4 win.
"It was a bit of a disastrous start but the big point was that birdie on the seventh which just kept me going," said the former Scottish under-16 champion from St Andrews after setting up a tie with Rory Brunton of Portpatrick . "I'm getting more up for winning this the more the week goes on."
Oban left-hander Robert MacIntyre, the reigning Scottish Boys' Strokeplay champion and Scottish Youths' Open title-holder, continued his quiet, effective progress through the field with a 3 and 2 win over Dalmahoy's Callum Cochrane. If the Glencruitten member is looking for good omens then he just needs to have a quick peek at the West Kilbride roll of honour. Ben Collier was the last lefty to win the national matchplay crown on this very course in 1990.
"I actually prefer strokeplay, to be honest," admitted the impressive MacIntyre, who holed a 30-footer for birdie on the second to seize an early lead against Cochrane before launching a three-wood to within five-feet on the third for an eagle. "It was a very fast start."
MacIntyre will face Williamwood's George Burns in the last-eight after he edged through with a one hole victory over Jack Rogan from Longniddry. Drumpellier's Innes Ferguson, the Lanarkshire Boys' Strokeplay champion, and local hopeful Stuart Easton of Irvine make up a interesting quarter-final draw.