At the start of Scottish Boys' Championship week, the West Kilbride clubhouse looked more like a holding pen for those boarding a golfing Noah's Ark as 256 hopefuls of varying shapes, sizes and swings awaited to set sail on the turbulent waters of matchplay competition.
It has not been quite 40 days and 40 nights but it's still been a decent voyage. Six days on, and seven rounds later, the whittling down process of the knock-out format has left just two lads standing. Ewen Ferguson, the top seed from Bearsden, and Ben Kinsley, the No 3 seed from the cradle of the game in St Andrews, will go head-to-head in the 36-hole final on the Ayrshire coast.
For Ferguson, there is now the prospect of a notable double whammy lying seductively on the horizon. The 17-year-old won the British Boys' title last summer and should he claim the Scottish bounty, he would become the first player to hold both titles since Steven O'Hara captured the pair of prizes back in 1998.
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Ferguson, his momentum bolstered by a seven-birdie 6 and 5 victory over Ryan Brown in the morning's quarter-finals, staved off the spirited challenge of Irvine's Stuart Easton by a 3 and 2 margin in the last four. Given his close proximity to the host venue, Ayrshireman Easton had garnered much of the support on the sidelines. It was hardly a partisan crowd, of course, but Ferguson clearly relished being something of a lone ranger on the links. "There was not much support for me, apart from my brother, Lewis, and my coach, Gregor Monks," he said. "Everyone was behind Stuart."
Easton, whose handy short game kept him nipping at the ankles of his opponent, gave those well-happit up followers something to cheer on the 11th hole of a chilly afternoon when he made birdie to reduce the leeway to just one hole. That merely galvanised Ferguson, though. "I thought 'right I'll birdie the next'," he said.
And he promptly did. Ferguson holed a 20-footer from off the green on the 12th to double his lead again and, having made a crucial up-and-down from 120 yards to maintain that advantage on the next, Ferguson was handed the tie on the 16th when Easton sagged to a three-putt bogey.
Kinsley, a beaten semi-finalist in both 2011 and 2013, finally heaved himself over that hurdle with a hard-earned 2 and 1 victory over Oban's Scottish Boys' Strokeplay champion Robert MacIntyre.
It was always going to be a nip-and-tuck affair between two talented teens but Kinsley made a telling thrust early on the back-nine. He trundled in a 25-footer for birdie on the 10th to seize a slender lead before inching further ahead on the 13th when he rolled in a birdie putt from 15-feet.
It was nice stuff to watch. Just don't ask Kinsley's dad, Patrick, for a rundown of the edited highlights. "He gets more nervous than I do and he can't seem to look at me when I'm playing," added Kinsley. "He's a great support though."
There's not been a St Andrews winner of the Scottish Boys' Championship for 54 years. Ewan Scott had the opportunity to end that drought last season but lost in the final and Kinsley is determined to go one better. "It's about time the town had a winner," he declared with purpose.
Quarter-finals E Ferguson (Bearsden) bt R Brown (Dunfermline) 6&5 S Easton (Irvine) bt I Ferguson (Drumpellier) at 20th, B Kinsley (St Andrews) bt R Brunton (Portpatrick Dunskey) 4&3, R MacIntyre (Glencruitten) bt G Burns (Williamwood) 3&1
Semi-finals Ferguson bt Easton 3&2, Kinsley bt MacIntyre 2&1