IT’S not been a bad start to life as a professional for Connor Syme. In his first event a fortnight ago, he finished in an admirable 12th place in the Portugal Masters. Here at his second, he enjoyed the illustrious company of Rory McIlroy for a pre-tournament batter about on the Old Course prior to this week’s Dunhill Links Championship.

A decade ago, McIlroy arrived at this very championship for what was only his second event as a pro. He finished third and earned a hefty six-figure cheque which secured his European Tour card in double quick time. “Rory mentioned that going down the first,” said Syme with a smile.

Syme would need to do something equally as barnstorming to avoid going through the rigmarole of the qualifying school process but the canny Fifer is not one to get swept along with grand, fanciful fantasies. Then again, he might change his tune if he’s standing on the 18th tee come Sunday a shot off the lead.

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“For Rory it was a big stepping stone and these are opportunities you have to grab with both hands,” said the 22-year-old. “But I’m well away from thinking about that. It’s not in my personality to get too up about things. I definitely try to keep my feet on the ground.”

Syme’s quiet, level-headed approach to his new surroundings certainly impressed McIlroy. “His game is very good but I was more impressed just with him as a person,” added the four-time major winner.

“It seems like he’s got a really good head on his shoulders. By finishing where he did in his first event, you can tell he’s not fazed by this sort of environment. I don’t see any real weaknesses.”

A shimmering endorsement from the world No 6 will work wonders for the morale but Syme is not resting on any laurels. Plaudits are one thing but its performances that matter.

“Obviously it’s great to hear Rory talking highly about my game,” he said. “His game is a little different than mine. Everyone has their different strengths, though, and you just have to stick to your own game.”

Away from the cut-and-thrust of tournament play, club members across Scotland have been officially informed of a proposal that could see the annual subscription they pay to the governing body, Scottish Golf, rise from £11.25 to £24.

The £1 per month increase is part of a wider strategy aimed at bringing in more revenue to the game and a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on whether to implement the levy will be taken in December.

Members were notified of the figure on Tuesday, the same day as Beith Golf Club in Ayrshire was forced to close due to a lack of members.