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Syme breaks into the last eight as Scots impress

The phrase 'break a leg' may be a sentiment of good fortune in the world of amateur dramatics but it is not the kind of phrase you want to take literally when you're trying to do a turn on the amateur golfing stage.

Step forward Connor Syme. Breaking his ankle while on a family holiday in Cyprus late last year was certainly not in the script for the youngster from Dumfries but here at the Amateur Championship, the 18-year-old has quietly and effectively eased his way into the spotlight.

On another highly encouraging day for the home contingent on the Causeway Coast, which saw three impressive teenage prospects eventually plough on to this morning's quarter-finals, Syme's title tilt gathered momentum as he staved off the challenge of Irish Boys' champion Robin Dawson to win by two holes.

In his first appearance in the unpaid game's blue riband event, Syme continues to make a splash. And he's not doing himself any grievous bodily harm in the process this time. "I was jumping off a climbing frame into a swimming pool on holiday, caught my ankle and broke it," recalled the GB&I boys' cap. "I missed about four months as well as the winter training trip to Dubai."

The rehabilitation is clearly going well. Dawson had got the better of Syme twice in head-to-head jousts last season, in both the European Boys' Team Championships and the Home Internationals, but the Scot came out on top yesterday.

A keenly fought tussle took a telling turn on the 17th when Syme drilled a 5-iron from 193 yards into six-feet while his opponent came to grief in the fairway bunker and conceded him the birdie and the hole.

Syme, the son of Dumfries & County professional Stuart, will now face Cawder's Jamie Savage, whose own old man, Stewart, is also a PGA pro at Dalmuir. Savage faced a tough task against Switzerland's highly rated Stirling University student, Matthias Eggenberger, but the Glasgow teenager forged a healthy three-hole lead through 11 before the wheels began to shoogle.

He stumbled to bogeys at 12 and 13 as his lead dissolved but a raking birdie putt of 60-feet on the 15th gave him a much-needed two-hole cushion.

"I think that knocked the stuffing out of him and it was a massive turning point," noted Savage, who put the tin lid on a 3 and 1 win by knocking his approach to six-feet on the 17th and trundling in the match-winning birdie. "After my 78 in the first round of qualifying, it's not a bad effort getting to this stage," added Savage.

Bradley Neil, the talented young Blairgowrie lad, continued his spirited march as he bolstered Scottish numbers in the latter stages. He had to dig deep against Frenchman Leonard Bem, mind you.

Neil had been two up after two with an early thrust aided by an eagle on the second, but by the turn Bem had surged into a three-hole lead thanks to a triple whammy of birdies at five, six and seven.

The tide would turn again, though, as Neil won five holes in a row from the 10th en route to a hard-earned 2 and 1 success. "He was holing putts from everywhere on the front nine but I never say die," said Neil, who was pipped in a play-off to the St Andrews Links Trophy recently.

"Coming down that back nine at St Andrews, I thought it was my time to win and it was a hard defeat to take. I believe it is my time again this week, though."

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