A birdie at the last at Carnoustie, the toughest closing hole in golf, is something to be proud of any day of the year. To make one on your Open Championship debut as a 19-year-old amateur, though, is pretty special.
Step forward Stonehaven’s Sam Locke, who signed for a one-over-par 72 after confidently knocking in a 15-foot putt to round off a good day’s work in the biggest test so far in his career. His effort was three shots better than one of his playing partners, 2013 FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker, and has given Locke a chance of making the cut when he heads back out in the first group in the second round.
“It was good,” said Locke, the 2017 Scottish Amateur champion. “I didn’t feel like I was in total control of the ball, but I holed a lot of nice putts. I really enjoyed the whole experience. Once I got the first tee shot away, I settled down.
“It was really cool to walk on the first tee. That’s as good as it gets. I felt like I dealt with it quite well. I maybe didn’t show it but I was a bit nervous. I hit a lot of nice putts today. If I can just get a bit tidier off the tee I should be in for a good week.”
He carded five birdies, the pick being the last one. “It was a good drive down the middle and a really nice wedge. To see the putt go in the hole was a great feeling,” added Locke, who received some useful advice from his mentor, 1999 winner Paul Lawrie, when he walked around with him in a practice round.
Lawrie, of course, beat Snedeker in the singles in the 2012 Ryder Cup. “We chatted about a few things, but Medinah wasn’t one of them,” said Locke, who had his dad Andrew, a PGA pro, on the bag. “He was brilliant to play with. He is a really nice guy.”
Scott Jamieson had six bogeys and two birdies in a mixed bag that added up to a 75, while Grant Forrest signed for an 80 after failing to put a red figure on his card.
“It was just one of those days,” said the 25-year-old, beaten finalist in the 2015 Amateur Championship here. “I didn’t feel as though I played that badly. I didn’t get off to a great start with a couple of three-putts early on and then a couple of wrong club choices. Before you know it, you are eight or nine-over par.”