Saturday, August 05, 2017

Sam Locke (18) thanks Paul Lawrie for his part

in making him Scottish amateur champion
 JUST CHAMPION! Sam Locke with the trophy. Picture by courtesy of Derek McCabe

With some additional words by Colin Farquharson
Stonehaven-based Sam Locke emulated the achievement of Colin Montgomerie 30 years ago to storm to glory in the Scottish men’s amateur championship at Prestwick links today.
The 18-year-old, who was a junior member of Banchory Golf Club and joined Stonehaven Golf Club this season, achieved his biggest success in the game after a thumping 9 and 8 win in the 36-hole final over Anglo-Scot Ryan Lumsden from Royal Wimbledon, sealing an automatic spot in the Scotland side for this month’s Men’s Home Internationals.
The last winner to achieve such a margin of victory was Ryder Cup stalwart Montgomerie at Nairn in 1987, when he defeated fellow Ayrshireman Alasdair Watt.
Locke, a former Scotland boy international and part of the Paul Lawrie Foundation, raced to a five-hole lead after nine holes as Lumsden, 20, struggled to five over par to the turn.
Locke, who is coached by his dad, Andrew, then birdied five of the last eight holes to lead by an astonishing 10-hole margin at lunch, an advantage he was unlikely to ever lose.
Locke had six birdies and was four under par for the first 18 holes.
Lumsden had one birdie and was seven over par for the morning round.
When Locke’s tee shot came back off the wall at the 19th rather than going out of bounds, Lumsden surely knew it wasn’t his day. The Royal Wimbledon member battled back to eight down at the 23rd, helped with an eagle at the 21st, but back-to-back birdies from Locke at the 24th and 25th virtually ended the contest.
For the 28 holes played, Locke, who has a handicap of +2, was five under par while Lumsden (handicap +3.6), who came on to his game too late, was five over par for the day.
With Locke placed outside the top 1,000 in the world amateur golf rankings, it was a notable scalp for the North-east player.
 Lumsden, after all, has performed well at Northwestern University (Luke Donald was a student there) near Chicago, represented Scotland last month at the European Amateur Team Championship and is placed inside the world’s top 200.
Locke, victorious from a 264-player field at this year’s new-look event, said: “Montgomerie is not a bad guy to follow in the footsteps of! I wouldn’t mind his career. I played really solid this morning, didn’t really do much wrong and holed a few putts. Whenever you do that you are going to be pretty hard to beat in match-play.
“It’s nice to finally get a big win under my belt and hopefully I can kick on from here and enjoy more success. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and practise hard.”
On his support from 1999 Open champion Lawrie, Sam added:  “Paul has been brilliant for me, since I was about 14. He got me into his Foundation and has helped me with all parts of my game, as well as the mental side. It’s great to pick up the phone and ask him anything when I need to.
“Banchory have also been brilliant, done a lot for me as a club since a young age and it was great to have people down supporting me today, including my dad.”
Lumsden, who will join Locke in the Home Internationals side bound for Moortown, Leeds, rued his poor start and said: “It was just one of those days. I didn’t hit it as well as I had been hitting it earlier in the week and I found myself in the semi-rough a lot of times and did a poor job of controlling the ball from there.
“My putting was also very poor, and Sam played just great golf. He made every putt he looked at, it seemed like, and shot a great score in the morning. In the afternoon, I was mentally a little better and more aggressive but it was his day. The score says it all and he deserved to win. He was better than me today.”
It was the 90th staging of the Scottish Amateur championship, with Locke joining a winners’ list that also includes Ronnie Shade, Charlie Green, Stephen Gallacher, Andrew Coltart, Dean Robertson and, more recently, Aberdonian David Law (2009 and 2011, both also at Ayrshire venues) and Grant Forrest.
Prestwick, the first host of The Open Championship in 1860, was in terrific shape for the event, along with neighbours Prestwick St Cuthbert for the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying. Prestwick staged the championship for the ninth time, with John Gallagher the last winner at the venue in 2007.

Stonehaven Golf Club captain Ivan Groundwater said everyone in the club was thrilled with Sam Locke's victory.
"Sam played magnificently throughout the championship, according to all reports," said Mr Groundwater, "and his hole-by- hole progress all through the final on Saturday was being monitored in the clubhouse, with great excitement among members as he built up his huge lead.
"It is a tremendous boost for our club that Sam decided to join us this season and his achievements will be an inspiration for our junior members, showing them the great rewards that hard work and dedication can bring."

Mr Groundwater said that while Sam has not been a member at Stonehaven for long, his family has been connected to the club for many decades, his stepfather Andrew Locke, pictured left, being a former club junior champion. Andrew's late father, Gordon Locke, was also a former captain of the club.
Mr Groundwater added: "Sam is the first reigning Scottish champion we have had at Stonehaven and I am sure the club council will come up with some suitable idea to mark this significant milestone in our history."




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