Sam Locke will have Calum Hill, who made the cut in last month’s US Open, and former European Tour player Craig Lee among his rivals when the 19-year-old amateur bids to make it a dream double in qualifying tests in East Lothian this weekend.
Locke, the current Scottish Amateur champion from Stonehaven, has already secured his spot in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie after winning Tuesday’s final qualifier at The Renaissance Club.
Now he’s aiming to help get himself prepared for that major debut by also coming through a similar two-round shoot-out at Longniddry for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane.
Locke, who shot rounds of 69 and 66 to come out on top at The Renaissance Club by a shot from compatriot Grant Forrest earlier in the week on Scotland’s Golf Coast, is among 127 hopefuls vying for four spots in the $7 million Rolex Series event.
“It would be pretty cool to come through this one as well and play in these two events back-to-back,” admitted Locke, who is bidding to become the third player after Tantallon’s Calum Hill (2015) and Nairn’s Sandy Scott (2017) to through this qualifier as amateurs.
That particular Calum Hill is not trying his luck this time around as he’s just started a new job in Oregon, but his namesake is in the field as he bids to emulate his feat in qualifying for the season’s second major at Shinnecock Hills.
“I’m feeling very good about the Scottish Open qualifier,” said Hill, who played his junior golf at Aberdour and Muckhart before taking his game to a new level during a stint at Western New Mexico University.
“I feel very fortunate to have received an invitation for this event from Aberdeen Standard Investments and I’m ready to capitalise on this opportunity.
“I have never played Longniddry before, but I’ve heard it’s a great track that is quite scoreable. To qualify for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open would be one of the best achievements in my golfing career so far. In fact, I’d definitely say it would be my proudest moment.”
While both Hill and Locke head into the event knowing their games are in good shape, Lee has no real idea what to expect as this will be his first competitive test since last October.
The 41-year-old held a European Tour card for five years and finished a career-best 59th in the Race to Dubai in 2013, the year he lost to Thomas Bjorn in a play-off for the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
He then missed out on holding on to his status by one spot at the end of the 2016 season, played a bit on both the Challenge Tour and European Tour last year but has been missing in action so far this season.
“I really did intend to play a wee bit in Scotland this year but I’ve been so busy working as a builder,” said Lee. “That’s why I’ve not teed up in anything but I decided that if I was going to play in something to see where my game is at, I might as well try and qualify for the Scottish Open.
“I think I have only played three times since the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama in October, which is not a lot when you are trying to compete against guys playing all the time.
“Having said that, I’ve hit a lot of golf balls in my golf studio at the house. I’ve been working on a few things. Whether my game is ready or not, only time will tell. I’ll find out, I suppose, this weekend.”
Other hopefuls include Craig Lawrie, who will be hoping to reproduce the form that saw him win a Big Johnson’s Tour event at Longniddry last weekend with a four-under-par 64. “I played great in that round and more of the same would do nicely on Saturday and Sunday,” said the 23-year-old, Paul’s eldest son.
* Admission to the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open qualifier is free.