India’s Jeev Milkha Singh produced a superb fightback to reach the last 32 at the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay in Scotland on Thursday.
Former Scottish Open champion Singh lost four of the first six holes to Australian Scott Hend and looked certain for an early exit after trailing by four at the turn.
But the 43-year-old birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th to reduce the deficit and took the lead for the first time in the match when Hend bogeyed the 14th and 15th.
The match was back to all square when Singh dropped a shot on the 16th, but Hend then failed to get up and down from the back of the 17th green and Singh scrambled a par on the last to seal an unlikely win on the Murcar Links in Aberdeen.
“When I was four down I just thought to myself ‘If you’re going to lose, you may as well go for everything,” Singh said.
“I was more aggressive and it paid off. It’s a perfect course for match play. If you’re down you can be aggressive and go for greens, if you want to be conservative you can do that too.”
Singh’s win restored Indian pride after Scotland’s Richie Ramsay recovered from an early deficit to beat Shiv Kapur.
Ramsay, who set the course record of 62 at Murcar Links a month before winning the US Amateur in 2006, fought back from three down to win in dramatic fashion on the 18th.
The 32-year-old took the lead for the first time in the match with a birdie on the 17th and also birdied the 18th from 20 feet, with Kapur having hit an excellent approach to eight feet.
“The front nine was below my standards but I’d certainly give myself an A to A+ for the last two holes,” Ramsay said.
“It was nice to do that under pressure. When I was younger I would probably feel the pressure and not play as well but with experience you realise this is what you are playing for and it’s fun.”
In-form Matt Fitzpatrick, who was second in the European Masters on Sunday, thrashed Bradley Dredge 6&4, while former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy defeated Sweden’s Magnus Carlsson 5&4.
But two-time major winner John Daly, who received an invite to play in the event, crashed out after losing by two holes to Spain’s Jorge Campillo.