The storylines are bubbling up nicely again in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open qualifier. Twelve months after a local amateur, Calum Hill, passed the test in the inaugural event at Gullane, Moray member Kyle Godsman is on course to emulate that feat heading into the second and final round at the Lossiemouth venue. If successful, he’ll be inside the ropes at Castle Stuart later this week rather than caddying for an amateur in the pro-am, as he has done in the past. “That would be quite something,” admitted Godsman.
On a day when menacing showers constantly slipped past nearby but thankfully spared the hopefuls bidding to join Phil Mickelson & Co in the £3.25 million main event along the Moray coast, the 25-year-old opened with a four-under-par 68. Illuminated by an eagle-3 at the 17th, it nestled Godsman into joint-third alongside Kris Nicol, who, as a Fraserburgh man, could be loosely termed a local.
Only George Murray and Ross Munro sit ahead of the pair at the halfway stage in the battle for five spots at Castle Stuart. Murray may be a well-kent face, but Munro certainly isn’t. The 22-year-old cut his golfing teeth at Liberton before becoming a PGA trainee under Alastair McLean at Duddingston.
Munro showed signs of being a useful player in East Alliance events last winter before backing that up with a sixth-placed finish in the P&H Championship at The Renaissance Club in May. Now he’s in the hunt for something really special, having opened with a remarkable effort. His 66 came a day after he’d played this course for the first time. “I was speaking to a couple of the lads who’d played here in a PGA EuroPro Tour event and they told me what to look out for,” said Munro after signing for six birdies. “It’s a course where you have to be defensive off the tee, which is why my 3-wood was nicely warmed up today.”
Murray, who has played in four Scottish Opens, was warmed up in a different sense before heading to the Highlands. The 33-year-old was forced to retire during the opening round of last Tuesday’s Open Championship qualifier at Gailes Links in Ayrshire due to a sore back.
“I’ve been to see Shelley Wares, who is based at Drumoig, for some physiotherapy twice since then and she’s had me doing some stretching and exercises that are definitely helping,” said the affable Fifer, who started with three birdies in the first four holes before finishing with further gains at the 17th and 18th, rolling in a 25-footer at the latter.
If the golfing Gods are smiling today, then Jack Doherty would surely deserve to claim one of those five coveted spots. The tall Ayrshireman was the unlucky one in that qualifier for Royal Troon, hitting the cup with a long birdie attempt at the penultimate hole as he came within a shot of forcing a play-off with Colin Montgomerie for the third and final spot up for grabs in that event.
“It was a bit surreal when I came down the last and looked across to see Monty warming up on the practice ground,” admitted Doherty after carding a 68 here to sit joint-fifth alongside English-based Ian Campbell as well as Paul O’Hara, Marc Owenson, Ross Cameron and Graham Fox, a qualifier 12 months ago. “But, while I wasn’t too disappointed on Tuesday night, I woke up on Wednesday realising that I’d let a good chance to play in The Open slip by as one-over on the back nine isn’t good enough.” Today could bring tidy compensation.