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Sea of faces among wave of ties as boys vie for safe early passage

In terms of the sheer number of folk beetling about, the first day of a Scottish Boys' Championship can make a Cecil B DeMille epic look like the Mary Celeste.

Top seed Ewen Ferguson survived an early scare to see of the challenge of Robert Hughan. Picture: Kenny Smith
Top seed Ewen Ferguson survived an early scare to see of the challenge of Robert Hughan. Picture: Kenny Smith

Players, players' parents, players' parents' pet dogs . . . it's a veritable sea of faces. Some of these fizzogs end up beaming from ear-to-ear after a 10-footer trundles into the hole on the last for a slender win. Others take on the mournful appearance of Les Dawson opening a disappointing bank statement after a dreadful 8 and 6 tonking. Even the dug looked scunnered after watching that.

Round one of the under-18s showpiece at a calm, pleasant West Kilbride, featured the usual ups-and-downs for the 148 young hopefuls contesting the first vast wave of matchplay ties.

"I thought I'd turn up and get cuffed," confessed Robert Hughan with some good old fashioned Scottish optimism. Hughan did lose but it was far from the thumping the Newton Stewart teenager had been anticipating against the top seed from Bearsden, Ewen Ferguson.

Hughan had been two down after 10 to the reigning British Boys' champion but kick-started his recovery by holing a wedge from 60 yards for a morale-boosting eagle-2 on the 11th before rolling in a 12-footer on the next to restore parity. The pendulum had swung but his matchplay magic wore off on the 17th, though, when he duffed a chip, fell behind again and eventually lost by one hole.

"He was a battler and never gave up," said a relieved Ferguson, who won the British title at Hoylake last summer by a rampaging 10 and 9 margin but was given an early fright here.

Ferguson is one of the more recognisable faces in the field this week. There's no need for the small band of golf writers here, who have established their usual comfortable beachhead in the ladies lounge overlooking the 18th, to leaf through the Scottish Golf Union's folder of player profiles to find out more about him. Others require more closer investigation and Glenbervie's Calum Bauchop attracted the attention of the scribblers on the somewhat flimsy basis that his mother once finished fourth in the Highland Dancing World Championships.

"That was before I was born and no, I don't dance," insisted Bauchop after marking his first appearance in the event with a hard-earned 2 and 1 victory over Darlington-based Aaron McManus.

The 16-year-old may not birl around in a Highland fling but he is stepping in the right direction as far as golf is concerned. Having been given a club membership as a birthday present, Bauchop has been playing for only three years but he has made some sizeable strides in that time.

"In my first year I went from a handicap of 28 to 21, the next from 21 to 10 and last year I got from 10 to 5," reported Bauchop, who was a promising rugby player with Falkirk before being bitten by the golfing bug. "It was a hard decision giving up rugby but once I started golf, I was hooked."

They come from a' the airts to play in this celebrated old championship. Michael Schinkel made the trek from Orkney to Ayrshire but his debut came to an end after 15 holes as he was sent back up the road again after a 4 and 3 defeat to Cochrane Castle's Colin Edgar, a winner on the SGU's Junior Tour earlier this year.

Dalmahoy's Murray Naysmith, the winner of the Paul Lawrie Foundation Junior Jug last season, didn't have as far to travel but was faced with the prospect of an early exit as he fell three holes behind to Loch­winnoch's Fraser Lawrie at the turn.

"I then adopted a bit of a ruthless attitude," said Naysmith as he went on the offensive and won five holes on the spin from the 11th to claim a one hole victory and join the gathering posse of smiling faces.

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