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Vengeful Ross more interested in draw than drawl

Ever since Sheena Easton returned to these shores with an accent that was more Beverly Hills than Bellshill, the mid-Atlantic drawl has caused no end of cringe-inducing teeth gnashing.

Young, impressionable golfers can be particularly vulnerable to these Star Spangled spoutings when they make the move across the pond. Give them a couple of months at college in the good old US of A and they'll be using phrases like "flat stick" and "on the back side" while urging their ball to "be good baby" as it hurtles through the air. Thankfully, Edinburgh's James Ross has remained true to his Auld Reekie roots. "I'd never hear the end of it from my pals if I came home with an American accent," said Ross, who has spent the last four years at University in Houston and is now keen to forge a professional career in the States. "I'm conscious of all the stick Graeme McDowell gets when he speaks."

Ross, the 2013 Scottish Golfer of the Year, let his clubs do the talking at a pleasant Royal Portrush yesterday as he eased over the first matchplay hurdle with a 4 and 3 victory over Germany's Martin Keskari. It was sweet revenge for the Scot having lost to Keskari during last summer's European Team Championships and the foundations for success were laid with a three-under outward half which left him three holes to the good. "I was very keen to make up for that defeat," added Ross, who reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Amateur Championship in 2011.

Third in last month's NCAA Championship, the strokeplay showpiece of the US college scene, Ross has quickly found his stride in the matchplay format. Three wins out of four during Scotland's 11-7 win over South Africa in a Test match at Western Gailes last week got him limbered up nicely and a purposeful opening round success set up an all-Scottish clash with Chris Robb of Aberdeen.

Robb is another American university graduate and he winkled out a "scrappy" 3 and 2 victory over Italy's Michele Cea.

Bradley Neil, the former Scottish Boys' champion, was embroiled in a nip-and-tuck encounter with Irishman Stuart Grehan and held on grimly for a final-green victory. In his own words, the 18-year-old had been "cruising" after winning the first three holes and finding himself four-up at the turn thanks to an eagle-2 on the ninth. The tide can swiftly turn in this format, though. He lost the 10th after a guddle in a bush and then surrendered the next when Grehan made birdie. "Then on the 12th I made the worst mistake in golf," he continued. "He put his drive well left and I took a driver and did exactly the same. It was a terrible decision. We both lost a ball but he took a 5 and I took a 6." A birdie on the 13th gave Neil a two-hole cushion again but he missed a three-footer on the 17th to ensure a nerve-jangling finish.

Cawder's Jamie Savage also squeezed through by one hole as he claimed the notable scalp of Julien Brun, the highly-rated Frenchman who won on the European Challenge Tour as an amateur two years ago.

Connor Syme, the Dumfries youngster, earned an equally impressive win with a 2 and 1 triumph over Ben Stow, the England internationalist who qualified for last year's Open at Muirfield.

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