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Grant Follows Grandfather’s Example

by Colin Callander - September 11, 2017

Sweden’s Linn Grant completed a historic Scottish double when she won the Ladies’ British Open Stroke Play Championship at North Berwick.

The 18-year-old from Helsingborg started the summer with a victory in the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open at Troon and three months later she brought it to a close in spectacular style with birdies on both of her closing two holes to claim her second international title of the year in the Home of Golf.

It has been quite a season for the Swede given that she has also won the German Girls’ Championship and played a pivotal role as her national team won the European Girls’ Team Championship in Finland. A cap for Europe in the Ping Junior Solheim Cup is something she is not likely to forget in a hurry either.

Grant started the last day three shots out of the lead after firing a 5-under-par 68 in the second round. She went on to add a 71 in blustery conditions the next morning but then had to endure an afternoon of high drama before clinching the title with a 1-under-par 72.

At one stage or another during the final round Grant, Annabel Wilson, Hannah Screen and Gemma Clews all held the lead – or a share of the lead – but the Swede topped the leaderboard when it mattered most. With her late birdie burst, she posted a 4-under-par total of 288 and claim a three-shot victory ahead of Wilson and Screen, who carded closing rounds of 71 and 74, respectively.

England’s Olivia Winning is another Scottish specialist, having won the Helen Holm on two separate occasions, and she finished the championship with three consecutive 72s to pip halfway leader Clews for fourth place on 1-over 293.

Clews slipped down the field after shooting a 75 and a 77 on the final day but that was still enough for her to finish in fifth place on 294, one shot ahead of Kathryn Norris and two in front of Bel Wardle.

Sophie Lamb did not quite manage to duplicate the form she showed while winning the Smyth Salver as low amateur at the Ricoh Women’s British Open up the east coast at Kingsbarns, but she still completed a solid defence of the title with a 75, good for solo eighth place.

“The win is deinitely right up there with the best things I have done in my career,” said Grant, whose grandfather, James, a native of Inverness, won the Scottish Boys’ title over the same course 59 years ago before settling for life as a PGA pro in Sweden.

“It’s amazing to win over the same course as my grandfather,” she added. “I’m still at high school in Helsingborg but next year I’m going to college in America. Eventually, I definitely want to turn professional.”

Ireland won the European Senior Men’s team title for a sixth time when they beat surprise packages Denmark in a cliff-hanger of a final at this year’s championship at PGA National Sweden.

The final was poised at 2-2 after Hans Peter Jacobsen beat Jim Carvill on the 19th in the penultimate singles match on the course, but in the end Adrian Morrow was Ireland’s hero when he beat Henrik Daugaard on the 21st hole of another singles that went into extra time.

Earlier John Mitchell and Eamonn Haugh put the first point on the board for the Irish when they beat Christian Langkilde and Kim Worm, 2 and 1, in the opening foursomes. Karl Bornemann added another point with a 5-and-4 victory against Tony Jensen but Michael Flindt pulled one back with a 3-and-1 win against Garth Mc-Gimpsey before the final two matches went into extra holes. Morrow, McGimpsey and Mitchell were all part of the Irish team when they claimed their last victory in 2015.

England won the third-place play-off, beating Scotland, 3½-1½.

France won the trophy for the third time in four years when they beat holders England, 3½-1½, in the final of this year’s European Senior Ladies’ Team Championship at the Skalica Golf Resort in Slovakia. Ireland beat Germany in the battle for third place.

Almost 80 amateurs have entered Stage 1 of the European Tour Qualifying School, which starts this week with the first two of eight qualifiers being staged at Fleesensee in Germany and The Roxburghe in Scotland.

The list of players who have forked out £1,550 to compete includes a substantial group of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh internationals, several of Continental Europe’s top amateurs plus a smattering of leading amateurs from elsewhere around the world.

Add in the likes of Englishman Scott Gregory and Scots Robert Mac-Intyre and Connor Syme, who are all exempt into Stage 2 of the qualification process as a result of their respective world rankings, plus the sizeable group of players who have turned professional ahead of the Q-School, and it is clear the men’s amateur game faces a mass exodus potentially on a scale even greater than in recent years.

Alfie Plant bowed out of the amateur game by representing GB&I in the Walker Cup at the Los Angeles Country Club last weekend. He will play in the qualifier at Ribagolfe and there is every chance that as many as six of the European champion’s Walker Cup team-mates could be joining him in the professional ranks. David Boote (Frilford Heath), Jack Davidson (Ribagolf) and Jack Singh Brar (Ribagolf) have all entered one of the eight Stage 1 events as amateurs and, with the aforementioned trio set for Stage 2, that might leave US collegiate players Harry Ellis and Paul McBride, plus Englishman Matthew Jordan, as the only Walker Cup players still in the amateur game by the end of the year.

England is by some distance the most populous of the five nations comprising GB&I so it is no surprise it is likely to be the most affected. In fact, with Bradley Moore, Marco Penge and Sean Towndrow having already turned pro, and with Gregory, Plant, Singh Brar, Josh Hilleard (Stoke by Nayland), Dan Brown (Frilford Heath), Will Whiteoak (The Roxburghe), Jack Yule (Stoke by Nayland) and Tom Gandy (Stoke by Nayland) all committed to Q-School, they could lose all but a handful of the players currently in their elite squads.

Walker Cup irst reserve Conor O’Rourke is another GB&I player who has set his sights on the pro game and he will switch codes ahead of playing at the Stage 1 qualifier at Frilford Heath. JR Galbraith (The Roxburghe), Robin Dawson (Ribagolf), Colin Fairweather and Stuart Grehan (both Frilford Heath) are among the other top Irish players competing at Stage 1 as amateurs.

Officials at Scottish Golf will also be watching Q-School with interest because internationals Craig Ross (Fleesensee), Liam Johnston, Craig Howie and Chris MacLean (all The Roxburghe) are all playing as amateurs at Stage 1. It will be the same in Wales where they run the risk of losing not just Boote and Davidson but also Evan Griffith (Stoke by Nayland) and Owen Edwards (Bogogno) from what is already a small pool of elite players.

Germany’s Max Röhrig and Claudio Consul (both Ebreichsdorf), Switzerland’s Jeremy Freiburghaus (Ebreichsdorf), Poland’s Mateusz Gradecki (Fleesensee) and France’s Edgar Catherine (Ribagolfe) are just some of the leading Continental amateurs playing at Stage 1 while top names from further afield include Australians Travis Smyth and Harrison Endycott (both Frilford Heath), South African Albert Venter (Ribagolfe) and his compatriot Kyle Mc-Clatchie, who returns to England to play in the qualifier at Frilford Heath just a few months after winning the Brabazon Trophy at Woodhall Spa.

Johnston was in commanding form as he beat Scottish international colleague Howie in the Stirling International tournament over the Torrance course at Fairmont St Andrews.

This year’s African Amateur champion had a one-shot lead ahead of Stirling University’s Robert Foley after opening rounds of 72 and 70 but he raced away from the field with a closing 67 and finished nine shots ahead of Howie on 7-under-par 209.

Howie opened the event with a 69, but then fell back into the pack with a 76 before completing the first event of this season’s SSS/BUCS Student Tour with a 73.

The international duo led a strong Scottish Golf team to a comprehensive 37-shot win ahead of Stirling University 1 in the team event.

The concurrent women’s event was won by Fern Clark who posted rounds of 75, 71 and 82 to claim a four-shot victory ahead of St Andrews University team-mate Cassie Kneen on 6-over 228.

German international Hurly Long wrote his name into the record books when he broke the Pebble Beach Golf Links course record on his way to sharing first place with Oklahoma State’s Hayden Wood in the individual event at the Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Long’s 11-under-par 61 shaved one stroke off the previous Pebble Beach course record held jointly by Tom Kite and David Duval and helped his Texas Tech team claim second place behind Oklahoma State in the team event.

The round included 10 birdies and an eagle on the sixth with the only blemish coming on the eighth, which he bogeyed after hitting his approach over the green. He gave himself the chance to set the new standard when he sank a 45-foot putt for a birdie on the 17th and then completed the job with a 10-footer for a birdie 4 on the final hole.

“It’s very surreal,” Long told pebblebeach.com a couple of days later. “It’s taken me until now for it to kick in. Pebble Beach is a special place. I was talking with my teammates: Where else in the world would you want to have the course record? Maybe Augusta National? It’s a huge, huge honour.”

“There aren’t words to describe it,” added Texas Tech head coach Greg Sands. “To have one of our guys come in here and break the course record on a course like this is phenomenal. This is easily one of the best, if not the best, days I have seen from a player in my 17 years coaching.”

Elsewhere Scotland’s Rory Franssen and Jamie Stewart also started the new US collegiate season on a high note as part of the University of Missouri team which claimed a runaway victory in the Turning Stone-Tiger Intercollegiate at the Turning Stone Resort in New York.

Franssen, from Inverness, carded rounds of 72, 68 and 70 to finish second behind team-mate Hayden Buckley in the individual event and help Missouri to a massive 50-shot win in a team contest which they have now won for the past six years in a row.

He was ably backed up by freshman Stewart, the 2015 Global Golf Post Scottish Boys’ Under-16 champion from Ranfurly, who posted rounds of 70, 72 and 74 to finish his college debut tied fifth in the individual tournament, six shots behind Buckley and seven adrift of Franssen.

On the women’s collegiate circuit Sweden’s Elin Esborn (Florida) carded rounds of 75, 70 and 72 to finish fifth, 10 shots behind Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho in the individual competition at the Ocean Course Invitational at Kiawah Island. English international India Clyburn (North Carolina State) was tied sixth, one shot further behind, while Switzerland’s Morgane Métraux (Florida State) tied for 10th.

South Africa’s Martin Vorster called on past experience to beat a strong international field at the Italian International Under-16 Championship at Biella le Betulle.

The 15-year-old Louis Oosthuizen Academy student opened with rounds of 74, 72, 67 and then added a 72 to finish three shots ahead of Italy’s Pietro Bovari on 7-under-par 285. Italy’s Giamarco Manfredi, Sweden’s Adam Wallin and Germany’s Felix Krammer were tied third, one shot further behind.

The leading British player was England’s Robin Williams who closed with a 71 to finish tied for seventh on level-par 292.


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