Sam faces another Open challenge

Sam Locke with 18th hole plaque at Stonehaven
Sam Locke with 18th hole plaque at Stonehaven

All eyes at Stonehaven Golf Club will be on Royal Portrush this week, as the club’s very own Sam Locke takes part in the 148th Open Championship.

The Northern Ireland course last hosted the Open in 1951, so it promises to be a special occasion as the event finally returns across the Irish Sea.

The 20-year-old star will be bidding to add the Claret Jug to the Open silver medal he won last year as leading amateur – indeed he was the only amateur to complete all four rounds at Carnoustie.

Sam, who turned pro immediately after the Open last year, tees off at 8.03am on Thursday, just after Phil Mickelson and just before Sergio Garcia – exalted company indeed.

On Friday, Sam will tee off at 1.04pm. His playing partners for both rounds are Alex Noren of Sweden and Mike Lorenzo-Vera of France.

Sam will be aiming to at least repeat his feat of last year in playing all four rounds by making the halfway cut.

Paul Lawrie, celebrating 20 years since he won the Open in 1999, is also competing and there happens to be quite a connection with Paul and Stonehaven. He is an honorary member, as is Sam, and both of their achievements are commemorated with plaques in the clubhouse.

The club have also added Sam’s picture to the 18th tee sign as a further reminder to members and visitors of Sam’s achievement in not only winning the silver medal but also the Scottish Amateur in 2017 where he beat Ryan Lumsden 9 and 8 in the final, after being ten up following the first 18 holes.

As last year at Carnoustie, dad Andrew, a former junior champion at Stonehaven and a teaching professional at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre in Aberdeen, will be on Sam’s bag.

Sam came through the Paul Lawrie Golf Foundation which set him on his way in the golfing world.

It is something to savour when two north-east golfers with connections to Stonehaven are competing at the most prestigious major.

Sam and his brothers can often be seen out on the course at Stonehaven and everyone at the club wishes him and Paul the very best of luck.