Renaissance man Sam leads way to qualify for the Open at Carnoustie

DONEGAL, IRELAND - AUGUST 04: Sam Locke of Scotland during the Boys Home International Cup at Ballyliffin Golf Club on August 4, 2016 in Donegal, Ireland. The annual three day tournament takes place on the north coast of Donegal between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
DONEGAL, IRELAND - AUGUST 04: Sam Locke of Scotland during the Boys Home International Cup at Ballyliffin Golf Club on August 4, 2016 in Donegal, Ireland. The annual three day tournament takes place on the north coast of Donegal between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Sam Locke, the 19-year-old amateur from Stonehaven, will be teeing up in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie in a fortnight’s time.

The Stonehaven Golf Club member emulated his mentor, Paul Lawrie, by coming through a final qualifier for the event.

Nineteen years after Lawrie passed the same test at Downfield before going on to get his hands on the Claret Jug, Locke produced a polished performance at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian to come out on top among 72 hopefuls.

Helped by holing out from a greenside bunker for an eagle 2 at the fifth – his 14th – on the second circuit, the current Scottish Amateur champion finished on seven-under after rounds of 69 and 66 in testing bouncy conditions on the Tom Doak-designed course.

He ended up a shot ahead of compatriot Grant Forrest (67-69) as the 25-year-old Challenge Tour player secured his second Open Championship appearance, with the third spot up for grabs being claimed by Thomas Curtis, a 33-year-old English professional, after scores of 68 and 69.

It is unfortunate, of course, that Lawrie will be missing out on a return to Carnoustie after being forced to shut down his season due to persistent back and foot injuries and both Craig, his eldest son, and Sean, his nephew, came up short in their bids to have some sort of family presence.

The two-time Ryder Cup player wasted no time in expressing his delight, though, about Locke’s success in making the line-up for the event’s 147th staging after arriving back in Aberdeen following a day out watching the action in East Lothian with his wife, Marian.

Locke’s dad Andrew, a PGA professional, is based at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre outside Aberdeen, where Locke jnr works in the coffee shop. “I was working yesterday and I’m back at work tomorrow,” he revealed. “I suppose I work for Marian rather than Paul, so I’ll need to ask her for the week off to play at Carnoustie.”

Locke missed out on being selected in Scotland’s six-man side for next week’s European Men’s Team Championship after seeing his game go off the boil in recent months. But he is now back in the form that earned him a 9&8 win over Ryan Lumsden in the final of the Scottish Amateur Championship at Prestwick last summer.

“That [missing the European event] was a disappointment – but this definitely makes up for it, “ he declared. “I can’t wait to be playing in the Open. I’ve always wanted to play in that event so, to qualify for it at my first attempt, I’m obviously delighted.

“My form has not been that great recently. I’ve not been playing that bad in my recent events, but couldn’t get anything going on the greens; today was a different story, I guess.

“I was very solid tee-to-green today. And I holed a couple of putts, had a couple of things go my way – like the bunker shot going in for me. I guess you need a couple of things like that to happen, just to get you there.

“I can’t wait for Carnoustie. I played there for the first time about a month ago in an R&A event for patrons and I shot level-par. I’d take that again!”

Forrest is also relishing his return, having reached the 
final of the Amateur Championship there in 2015. “I love Carnoustie, it’s one of my fav-ourite courses, “ he said.