In-form Sandy Scott looking to shine in Amateur Championship

Sandy Scott is still on a high from playing in the Palmer Cup and now has his sights firmly set on another team assignment in the Walker Cup but, for the next couple of weeks, the Nairn player is competing as an individual.

Nairn amateur Sandy Scott in action at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in 2017. Picture: Kenny Smith/SNS

First up is the Amateur Championship, which is being held for just the second time at Portmarnock in Ireland, after which he’s then off to Austria for the European Amateur Championship, both massive events in the battle for Walker Cup spots.

One of six Scots named in the initial Great Britain & Ireland squad for the biennial match against the United States at Royal Liverpool in early September, Scott is making a strong case to earn a spot on Craig Watson’s team.

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The 20-year-old, who has just finished his penultimate year at Texas Tech University, was handed a massive confidence boost as he landed a breakthrough success on the US college circuit in the El Macero Classic in Texas.

Scott, who underlined his potential in 2015 when recording three domestic wins – the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Trophy, East of Scotland Open and Scottish Boys Open Stroke Play – in just 40 days, then helped the Internationals win the Arnold Palmer Cup as it involved men and women for the first time at The Alotian Club in Arkansas.

“It’s been a good season for me,” he told The Scotsman en route to Dublin, having only been home for a few days before setting off on his his travels again. “I’ve played some good stuff and it’s been very enjoyable. I’ve always believed in being able to play good golf and it is good to get some reward after a long stretch of working hard on my game. Getting my first win was really satisfying. I had wanted to get a college win under my belt for a long time, so to pull it off was great. The week before I was in contention, leading after the first two rounds and I was quite disappointed to finish second. But to come back the week after and win was a really great feeling.

“The Palmer Cup was absolutely fantastic, one of the best golfing weeks I’ve ever had. Team golf is a different level altogether, it is just great fun. And to involve the women as well on this occasion made it a really great experience.

“Me and Ireland’s Julie McCarthy made a good partnership, being two for two in matches. It was cool because we don’t get much chance to see the women golfers and to do that in a competitive environment was great fun.”

In the Amateur Championship, which starts with a 36-hole qualifying scramble at Portmarnock and The Island on Monday and Tuesday, Scott spearheads a Scottish contingent that also includes African Amateur champion Euan Walker, Byron Nelson Award winner Ryan Lumsden and 50-year-old Scottish Amateur title holder Euan McIntosh.

“It is really refreshing to play links golf again, having played on a couple of courses last week after getting home,” said Scott. “When you’ve played it your whole life, it is something that doesn’t really go away. But, at the same time, it takes a couple of days to get back into the swing of things. The Walker Cup is definitely my goal now. I have a few big tournaments to play in, starting with these two. I’m not getting ahead of myself, so I’ll be focusing on them one at a time.”

Scott, who is delighted to see his younger brother, Calum, following in his footsteps by making his mark on the junior scene, qualified for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in 2017, but doesn’t think he’ll get that opportunity this year at The Renaissance Club.

“From looking at the schedule briefly, I don’t think I’ll get the chance to try and qualify for the Scottish Open this time and The Open is probably out as well as it’s a pretty busy time of the year on the amateur front,” he said.