Scotland internationalists Sandy Scott and Calum Fyfe led the qualifiers at the Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship in Prestwick yesterday.

The pair posted fine 36-hole totals of eight-under-par over Prestwick and Prestwick St Cuthbert to comfortably finish clear at the top of the 264-man field in Ayrshire.

The top 64 players and ties booked their spots in the matchplay stages, as the event takes on a new format this year falling in line with other national bodies.

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The famous links of old Prestwick, which first hosted the Open Championship back in 1860, will now decide the winner come Saturday.

“One of the goals for the week was to try and win the strokeplay,” said Cawder’s Fyfe, who posted a pair of 67s, before being joined at the summit in the early evening by Scott (66, 68).

“I played well; played solid. I just tried not to make any silly mistakes as that can be tough to come back from over 36 holes.

“I’m just trying to keep it going, more of the same, sticking to the same plan and focusing on my own game.”

Fyfe, who never went beyond the third round in the former format of the event, added: “I feel Prestwick suits my game with the tight fairways, you have to plot your way round it and have the putter working.”

Nairn’s Scott, who birdied his first three holes of his second round to give himself a nice cushion, was joined by other north-based players high on the strokeplay leaderboard, with Rory Franssen (Inverness) and Sam Locke (Banchory) finishing on two-under.

Locke, 19, playing just his second Scottish Men’s Amateur, said: “It was a tough day, but I played pretty solidly both days for two-under.

“I’ll take each match as it goes now and get as far as I can – and obviously try and win it. The course provides an exciting finish for matchplay.”

Late in the day, as a glorious sun sparkled across the Prestwick links, Ed Wood (Crow Wood) and Anglo-Scot Ryan Lumsden from Royal Wimbledon reached three under par to share third spot. Euan Walker from Kilmarnock Barassie was also a comfortable qualifier on two-under.

Other fancied players like the Howie brothers from Peebles, Darren and Craig, also progressed, as did Kirkhill’s Craig Ross, Matthew Clark (Kilmacolm), Tennant Cup winner Christopher Maclean (Balmore) and Turnhouse’s Euan McIntosh.

Local lad Jim Johnston (Ayr Belleisle) eased through on one under, the same mark as Clydebank & District’s Steven Stewart who produced a superb 65 over St Cuthbert.

Craig Watson, the East Renfrewshire veteran, showed he can mix it with the young ‘uns as the 50-year-old GB&I Walker Cup captain, who was runner-up in the 2001 Scottish championship at Downfield, progressed to the knock-out stages on a 147

The cut mark fell at seven over par, with last year’s champion from Windyhill, George Duncan, among those to miss out on eight-over.

Duncan had been inside the qualifying mark until a crippling double-bogey six on Prestwick’s 17th in a 77 left him one shot shy of the top-64.