HE couldn’t could he? In his first appearance in the Scottish Amateur Championship since winning it back in 2008, Callum Macaulay continued his push for the national crown at Crail yesterday as he eased into the last 16.

Macaulay, who also helped Scotland win the Eisenhower Trophy 11 years ago before embarking on a professional career on the European Tour in 2009, is now a re-instated amateur and is enjoying being back in the cut-and-thrust of the domestic scene.

After a two hole win over Andrew Gibson in the morning’s opening matchplay round on the Craighead links, the 35-year-old, who notched a runners-up finish during his rookie season among Europe’s elite as a pro, upped the ante in the last 32 and beat Craig Leith of Royal Aberdeen by a 4&3 margin. Macaulay will now face Craigielaw’s Angus Carrick in today’s third round.

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Host club member George Burns roused the locals with a couple of stirring displays as he beat Gary Wright 6&5 before romping to a 7&6 win over Dan Lawrence in the afternoon as his challenge for the title gathered pace.

“Playing at my home course has been fun, I know the course well and I had some success here earlier in the year when I played the Battle Trophy and I think both of those factors have allowed me to be confident with my lines off the tee,” said Burns. “I haven’t felt too much extra pressure to be honest, I am just planning on sticking to my game and seeing what happens one round at a time.”

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Euan McIntosh, who was looking to become the first player since Charlie Green in 1983 to claim back-to-back titles, was thwarted in the opening knock-out round as the 50-year-old was beaten on the last green by former Scottish Boys’ Strokeplay champion John Paterson. Paterson is still in the hunt to win the title himself after sweeping aside Millport’s Craig Pirie by 4&3.

There was a second round exit, however, for the No 1 seed from the strokeplay qualifying rounds, Stuart McLaren of Bruntsfield. McLaren went down to a 3&1 defeat at the hands of Hilton Park’s Lachlan Reynolds, who will now play Australia-based Josh Greer.