Ryan Lumsden, one of four Scots teeing it up in the 118th US Open, is a genuine contender for the low amateur prize at Shinnecock Hills, according to the man who has watched his game flourish on the US college circuit.
David Inglis, a former British Boys’ champion from Roslin in Midlothian, is the golf coach at Northwestern University outside Chicago, where Lumsden is following in the footsteps of both Luke Donald and Matt Fitzpatrick by being a member of the “Wildcat” team.
London-born Lumsden has impressed Inglis by producing a string of impressive performance over the past three years and he is now excited to see the 21-year-old testing himself against the world’s best after joining Russell Knox, Richie Ramsay and former Aberdour and Muckhart junior Calum Hill in coming through a sectional qualifier for the season’s second major on Long Island.
“Ryan has really worked hard and improved a lot,” said Inglis, a former Glencorse member who looked destined to be playing in golf’s biggest events himself after beating Ryan Moore in the singles as helped Great Britain & Ireland win the 2003 Walker Cup at Ganton but has no regrets that his career has taken a different path.
“He has always been a very solid ball-striker but when he came to Northwestern he really struggled around the greens with his short game and putting. He has put in a ton of effort to improve those areas and he is now starting to see that pay off.”
Lumsden, who qualifies for Scotland through his Edinburgh-born grandparents, came through one of the toughest sectional qualifiers in Columbus, Ohio, finishing tenth and being the only amateur to pass that test as he progressed along with Knox and 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.
“He birdied two of his last three holes, so I think that itself was a good indication of how much he has improved,” added Inglis, who joined Lumsden at Shinnecock Hills on Wednesday as he finalised his preparations. “This will be a great experience for him.”
Lumsden faces stiff competition in the battle to finish as low amateur, with no fewer than 20 non-paid players – the highest total since 1962 – having made the 156-strong field this week. They also include Englishman Harry Ellis, the Amateur champion, and Doug Ghim, last year’s US Amateur runner-up.
“The fairways at Shinnecock are pretty wide but the penalty for missing the fairway will be very severe with difficult rough,” observed Inglis. “If Ryan can have a good week off the tee, I think he can do well and, if he can handle the difficult greens, he could be in the hunt for the low amateur.”