Saturday, June 12, 2010

Muirfield knowledge will help Mark Hillson in Amateur bid

Craigielaw's Mark Hillson, a quarter-finalist in last year's event, has good reason to be looking forward to next week's Amateur Championship at Muirfield.
That's because the former Lothians champion knows the Open Championship venue a lot better than most others in the field due to the fact he sometimes does a bit of caddying there.
"Last year's event was the highlight of my season and it would obviously be good to enjoy another good run in the event," said Hillson.
"I've done a fair bit of caddying at Muirfield and hopefully the knowledge I've gained will stand me in good stead."
The event returns to the East Lothians links for the first time since 1998, when Sergio Garcia lifted the title, beating Welshman Craig Williams in the final.
Hillson, pictured by Cal Carson Golf Agency, is part of a 56-strong Scottish contingent bidding to secure a first home victory since Stuart Wilson won at St Andrews in 2004.
The highest-ranked of the 56 is Banchory's James Byrne, who reached the last 16 at Formby in 2009.
Next on the list, Colville Park's Ross Kellett, reached the quarter-finals at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2007, before losing out to fellow Scot and Challenge Tour player Callum Macaulay 4 and 3. He said: "I feel pretty comfortable around Muirfield.
"I played in the Home Internationals there in 2008, and a Scottish Golf Union team plays against a members' select team every season as well. That experience can only help during the Amateur.
"My match-play record is good, but the first priority is coming through qualifying. Missing my last two cuts is disappointing (the Scottish Stroke Play Championship and the St Andrews Links Trophy], but I feel I've been playing well enough, I've just not been getting any breaks. You need a bit of luck at times.
"Hopefully I'll be ready at the Amateur. There's a lot at stake that week, what with the chance of playing in The Open and the Masters if you win. But you have to forget all of that and stay focused on the job."
A total of 288 players will play two rounds of stroke-play, one each at Muirfield and North Berwick on Monday and Tuesday, before 64 players and ties progress to the match play rounds beginning on Wednesday at Muirfield.
A place at the 150th anniversary Open Championship st St Andrews next month and the 2011 Masters Tournament are on offer for the champion.



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