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Savage salvages matters as mist relents at long last

If you perch yourself on the coast not far from Portrush, it's possible to glimpse the Mull of Kintyre:

on a clear day that is. As it was Paul McCart­ney's birthday yesterday, it was tempting to think "oh mist rolling in from the sea" as the thick stuff continued to hang about on the Irish side of the water like a bad smell. You'd have been lucky to see your hand in front of your face let alone McCartney's beloved Kintyre.

Following the suspension of play on Tuesday, this Amateur Championship has turned into a long and winding road. Mercifully, the smothering fog relented enough to allow play to resume largely unhindered yesterday as the catch-up job got under way and the strokeplay qualifying phase was finally completed. The 36-hole final, originally scheduled for Saturday, will now be staged on Sunday, though that is a minor inconvenience. At least things are back on track.

The Glasgow youngster Jamie Savage certainly got himself on the right road again with a spirited salvage operation that was rewarded with a place in the matchplay knock-out stages. Weather issues aside, this has already been a difficult week for the 19-year-old. His grandmother passed away recently and he attended her funeral last Friday before heading across to the Antrim coast.

An opening 78 at Portstewart left him on the brink of an early exit from the championship but the reigning Irish Open Strokeplay champion showed his resolve and shaved 11 shots of that score with a battling three-under 67 at punishing Portrush. His four-over aggregate of 145 was enough to make the promised land of the top 64 and ties. A brave putt of 10-feet on the 17th for a birdie proved to be decisive. It was a fine effort.

"Given the circumstances with my gran, my head wasn't really in it during the first round," admitted Savage, who had the highest first-round score of all the qualifiers, "but I played really well today."

It was a decent day for the Scots. Grant Forrest, fresh from strokeplay success in the St Andrews Links Trophy last weekend, eased through the qualifying test with a 68 at Portrush which left him on a 141 tally. "It was a case of not doing anything silly," said Forrest, who gave himself a nice cushion with four birdies on his outward half. "I got over on Friday so, with the delays, it's dragged a bit. Now the event really starts, though." As a past winner of both the Scottish boys and men's matchplay titles Forrest has every reason to look forward to the cut-and-thrust of the one-on-one jousts.

Chris Robb, the Aberdonian who has just completed an impressive stint on the US college scene, was the pick of the Scottish bunch as a 69 at Portrush hoisted him into the top 10 on a 139. Liam Johnston, James Ross, Connor Syme, Calum Hill, Bradley Neil and Jack McDonald, a semi-finalist in the 2012 championship, also made the grade.

At the head of affairs, Yorkshire's Daniel Brown claimed the qualifying honours with an eight-under 133 but it is by no means a good omen for matchplay success. Since the strokeplay phase was introduced in 1983, only three players: Philip Parkin, Warren Bladon and Matteo Manassero, have topped the qualifying standings and gone on to win the title. In that same period, 15 top seeds have lost in the first knockout round. It's Brown's turn to pick up this poisoned chalice.

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