When the Amateur Championship draw threw up a duel between Stirling University team-mates Jack McDonald and Mathias Eggenberger over the Royal Troon links yesterday, Dean Robertson found himself as the man in the middle.
The former Italian Open champion just happens to be the university's golf coach. He was also acting as Barassie youngster McDonald's caddie. In the end, the Scottish alliance, much to the delight of a strong Ayrshire following, overcame the Swiss challenge on the final green. "It was almost a case of tossing a coin for Dean," said McDonald.
With Brian Soutar, James White, Danny Young and James Ross all falling at the opening matchplay hurdle, the Saltire was already sliding to half mast but Baberton's Paul Ferrier kept the flag flying with a 7 and 6 demolition of England cap Ben Stow before McDonald doubled home numbers in the last 32.
The former Scottish Boys' Strokeplay champion, 19, was made to work for his win. After squaring the tie on the 11th when Eggenberger three-putted from four feet, McDonald forged a two-hole lead through 13 but a tee-shot into the bunker on 17 allowed Eggenberger to reduce the leeway.
When McDonald blocked his drive down the last into the rough, the door was opened further for the Swiss but, as the Scot stumbled to another bogey, Eggenberger's five-footer to force a play-off dribbled by the cup.
"I was just about making my way to the first tee for the extra-holes before he hit that putt," added a relieved McDonald.
Things were a lot less tense for Ferrier who won five of the first six holes against Stow during a profitable surge aided by a raking birdie putt of 40-feet on the fifth. As winner of the Scottish Boys' Championship in 2007, Ferrier relishes the matchplay game and his approach yesterday was a considered one, utilising his driver just twice as he plotted a safe route around Troon's abundant dangers.
"That's the key around here, keep it in play and then you can attack," said the University of North Carolina graduate, who is based in Charlotte, the US city that Martin Laird recently relocated to. "He's in the rich part," added Ferrier.
On a day of fluctuating fortunes, Daniel Jennevret, the winner of the 36-hole strokeplay phase, was left licking his wounds after suffering an early exit. His departure shouldn't have come as a surprise mind you. In the previous 13 championships, the No.1 qualifier had lost in the first round on eight occasions and Jennevret added his name to the list after a one- hole defeat to Spain's Emilio Cuartero, the winner of the Boys' Amateur Championship at Porthcawl back in 2007.
There was more of a stir caused by the 19th hole exit of Daan Huizing, the all-conquering Dutchman who had racked up double-figure margins of victories in both the Lytham and St Andrews Links Trophies recently.
Englishman Craig Hinton, Huizing's opponent yesterday, finished 17 and 16 shots behind him in those two events but the matchplay format dragged them much closer together. In a nip-and-tuck joust, Hinton, the winner of the Welsh Open Strokeplay by seven strokes in May, struck a late blow when he chipped in for an unlikely birdie on 17 to go one-up but Huizing restored parity on the last when he got up-and-down from, the side of the green. The pendulum made a final, decisive swing in Hinton's favour up the first extra-hole when he dinked a wedge into three-feet and holed the birdie to triumph.
"He's a great player but there's no point putting him on a pedestal," said Hinton, who qualified for last year's Open. "It's matchplay, so anyone can beat anyone."