THERE are two personal photographs on my desk. In one, I'm standing beside Paul Lawrie clutching the Claret Jug.
WHEN a university professor wrote to suggest I was fortunate to have the best job in Scotland, he must have had in mind the opportunities which arose over the past 35 years to spend time in the company of luminaries such as Jock Stein, Sir Alex Ferguson and Colin Montgomerie.
More top stories
WHAT is it about sport and that gut-wrenching sense of regret which lights a bonfire under dreams of glory?
THE unhelpful clash of dates which pits the Scottish Hydro Challenge on the European Challenge Tour in Aviemore against the Allied Surveyors Scottish Amateur championship at Royal Troon this week will not be allowed to happen in future years, event organisers have insisted.
Open 2009: Flustered Tiger on his way home as errant swing causes him no end of trouble on the Ailsa course
TIGER Woods, an unbackable 2-1 favourite with some bookmakers before the Open championship began, has missed the cut in the oldest major for the first time at Turnberry. "It was just problem after problem," he rued. "I kept compounding my problems out there. I had some high numbers and it cost me a chance on the weekend."
WHEN the leaderboard at the 138th Open was painted red with the numbers which denote scores below par on Thursday, Tom Watson volunteered the opinion that the old lady of Turnberry was defenceless.
ALREADY ranked a 300-1 outsider to win The Open by the bookmakers, Colin Montgomerie endorsed his standing as a Turnberry underdog in both word and deed when he returned 73 for 284, level par, at the Barclays Scottish Open. "I'm not expecting anything," he cautioned when the subject of the oldest major was raised, "so neither should you."
NOT since Ian Woosnam won the Scottish Open in 1990 after triumphing in Monte Carlo the week before has any golfer headed for The Open championship encouraged by successive victories on the European Tour until Martin Kaymer pulled off the trick at Loch Lomond.
ALTHOUGH he was some way short of his best form and spilled four shots in five holes on the front nine, Martin Laird gritted his teeth on the inward half at Loch Lomond, came home in 32 and marked his professional debut on the European Tour by finishing tenth at the Barclays Scottish Open and collecting a cheque for £60,000.
THE increase in stature of the Barclays Scottish Open from relatively humble origins at Downfield in 1972, when Neil Coles collected a winner's cheque for £1,950, to the summer blockbuster which starts today at Loch Lomond – on Sunday the victor takes home £500,000 – is perhaps best captured by the strength of a field which features 25 of the world's top 60 golfers.
AS A young man from Kansas making his way in the game, Tom Watson was once compared by Herbert Warren Wind, the notable American golf writer, to Mark Twain's fictional character, Huckleberry Finn. Beneath a mop of tousled hair, Watson looked a model of innocence all right, but he also knew how to twist the knife.
AS THE business end of the golf season gets underway on this side of the Atlantic in Paris on Thursday – the French Open has a prize fund of £3.4 million, the Barclays Scottish Open the following week offers £3m and the Open championship from 16-19 July won't pay out less than £4.2m – Europe's best golfers and their rivals from around the world will compete for more than £10.6m over the next three weeks.
HEATHER MacRae hopes less fuss will be made of her gender and more attention paid to her golf when she attempts to make the cut in the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles in 2010 after she signed for 81 and the 12 over par total of 156 over the PGA Centenary.
ALTHOUGH she was understandably anxious over the opening stretch and spilled three shots before walking onto the third tee, Heather MacRae covered the ensuing 16 holes at Gleneagles in level par and never looked out of place during the Tartan Tour's flagship event when she became the first woman since Meg Farquhar in 1933 to compete in the £50,000 Scottish PGA Championship. MacRae's first round score of 75 gives her a chance of making the cut.
WHEN Lucas Glover holed the victorious putt on the home hole at Bethpage in the US Open, the American's reaction was refreshingly understated, more in keeping with winning the monthly medal than one of the four biggest prizes in golf.
AS EUROPE'S finest endured nearly 40 lean years at the US Open, America's best players struggled to monopolise their own national championship largely because of consistently gritty performances from southern hemisphere golfers.
ACCORDING to Mike Davis, the United States Golf Association's director of championships, it's the long hitters with a high trajectory who can land the ball softly on the greens who should enjoy an advantage at Bethpage in the US Open.
NOT only was Nick Faldo Britain's most successful golfer during the Eighties and Nineties, it's also reasonable to argue that between 1987 and 1996 he was, for the most part, the best player in the world.
STRONG-minded as well as sturdy, Martin Laird is a modern day addition to the Scottish diaspora who sought a more rewarding life on the golf courses of America.
HAVING already earned more prize money in six months, in excess of 280,000, than during any other full season since he turned professional 14 years ago, it's little wonder Dunbar's David Drysdale feels a weight has been lifted from his shoulders as he looks forward to competing against the world's best golfers this summer.