Syme seeking strokeplay success at Valle Romano to make matchplay knockout

Scotland’s Connor Syme is hoping to put his matchplay experience from playing for Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup two years ago to good use in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Match Play 9, if he can make it into the top 64 in the 36-hole strokeplay at Valle Romano. Picture by GETTY IMAGES

CONNOR Syme is hoping to draw on previous matchplay experience as he aims for his second victory of the season at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9, which starts today (Thursday) at Valle Romano Golf.

The Scot triumphed at the season-opening Turkish Airlines Challenge and six events into his European Challenge Tour campaign, he sits fifth on the Order of Merit.

This week, the usual 72-hole strokeplay will be swapped for only 36 holes of strokeplay on the Andalusian coastline before those surviving the 64-man cut will compete in nine-hole matchplay across the weekend.

The 23-year-old has recent matchplay experience under his belt, having competed in the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth earlier in the year, in addition to his Walker Cup appearance for Great Britain and Ireland prior to turning professional in 2017.

However his immediate focus is on progressing through the strokeplay section of this week’s event.

“It was good to play in the Perth Super 6 this year and I definitely drew on my amateur experiences to help me in that,” said Syme who was in the GB&I team in Los Angeles that contained Hampshire pair Scott Gregory and Jack Singh-Brar – who are both playing on the European Tour in 2019.

Syme added: “I’ve had decent success in matchplay as an amateur but I’m definitely looking at the 36-hole qualifier as the most important thing now and hopefully I get the opportunity to draw on some of those experiences at the weekend.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’ve heard good things. The guys did very well last year – my good friend Liam Johnston managed to win and beat Grant Forrest in the final as well so hopefully the Scottish guys can do well this week again.”

Born in Drumoig, Scotland, Syme enjoys teeing it up in matchplay formats and believes the Valle Romano course offers plenty of risk and reward opportunities.

Syme said: “This course works out pretty nicely for matchplay because it’s got so many risk and reward tee shots.

“In the strokeplay section there are few tee shots where you’ll probably lay back but when it gets to matchplay there are definitely holes where you can hit driver and go for a few greens, which will make it exciting.

“We still try and play the golf course to a certain extent but with the pressure off you can obviously play that bit more aggressively.

“There will be a few holes this week where I might hit drivers in matchplay where I might not in strokeplay,” Syme stressed

“With the format being as it is this week, you still need to play well for 36 holes to get a chance to play matchplay. It’s about being sensible in strokeplay to have a go at matchplay.”

Joining Syme in Spain this week are Walker Cup teammates David Boote and Matthew Jordan, as well as last week’s Hauts de France – Pas de Calais Golf Open winner Robin Roussel.

The action at Valle Romano Golf will begin today at 7.30am local time, with Syme getting under way at 8.10am.