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Scotland Notable Qualifyer


The pros slogged it out for money, but once again the Open Championship headlines were grabbed Monday by the players who continue to play the game for love.

Leading them all was Zane Scotland, the extravagantly named 16-year-old from Surrey, who became the youngest player to qualify to play in the Championship proper since Sandy Lyle in 1974 by finishing well up the leaderboard at Downfield.

Scotland, who in spite of his name has a father from the Dominican Republic and a mother from Northern Ireland and was born in England, passes his 17th birthday on Saturday. The early present he gave himself far exceeded any amount of worldly goods he might have hoped for.

Scotland had a 71 to finish with a 36-hole total of 140, 6-under-par. It was five shots behind the course winner, Tom Gillis, of the United States, but quite comfortably good enough to take him into the tournament proper on Thursday.

The youngster's feat brought back memories of the performance of Justin Rose last year -- if he does a quarter as well as Rose (who finished tied for fourth place) it will still be a considerable feat.

Scotland's form was just a touch more erratic than it had been when he featured so strongly after the first day's play. He had five birdies and three bogeys. Not great --- but enough.

"It's a dream," the plus-one handicap member of Woodcote Park, in Coulsdon, Surrey, said. "The Open is the biggest competition in the world -- there's nothing bigger or better."

"I just go out there to enjoy every shot in every round I play and I'll try to play exactly the same way at Carnoustie."

He is due to play a practice round Tuesday on the horribly tough Championship course a few miles up the road from Downfield -- meanwhile, his commitments in Scotland have forced him to pull out of the defense of his South East Boys Championship title at Sunningdale. There's a surprise.

Another amateur to shine was Luke Donald, who took on the best on offer at Panmure and licked the lot of them. Donald, a student at Northwestern University in Chicago, recently won the Golf Stats Cup in the United States, beating the record aggregate of Tiger Woods.

Donald, heading for a place in the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team this autumn, stormed to a course record-equaling 65 at Panmure to shade out a resurgent Michael Campbell, back in form after three years in the doldrums, and Mark Allen, of Australia.

Donald had a total of 135, 5-under-par, on a course that played tougher than any of the other three final qualifying layouts, and was understandably delighted with his form.

"My game has come on a lot since I've been over there," he said. "My college has one of the best coaching facilities i America -- they've really improved my technique."

"There's nothing I'd like more than to emulate Justin Rose's performance last year. For the moment I'm just happy to qualify. I'll take it one step at a time -- my first aim is obviously to make the cut."

Meanwhile, former U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar had a 74 at Monifieth Links to finish seven strokes short of qualifying and end his streak of five consecutive majors for which he has been eligible.

Aces were certainly high at Panmure over the two days of competition. There were three holes-in-one, by Kevin Wentworth at the fifth on Sunday and by Andrew Hare at the 11th and Gordon Sherry at the 15th on Monday.

None of them made the top 13 players who went through to the main event from Panmure with Hare throwing a huge blot on his copy-book when he ran up an ugly 10 at the par-five 14th. "In the end you had to see the funny of it," he said after first losing his ball then having to take a penalty drop after hitting into an unplayable lie in a bush.

Per-Ulrik Johansson kept up the momentum at Montrose Links, adding a 69 to his first-round 63 to win by a shot from British pro Andrew Sherborne and France's Fabrice Tarnaud.

"The gallery was even bigger today than it was on Sunday," Johansson said. "There must have been 500-plus out there with us. It felt a little awkward today after the 63 yesterday. I tried to play as well as I could, but the motivation just didn't seem to be there."

"It really doesn't matter if you're No. 1 qualifier, only that you qualify. I'm looking forward to it, though -- I'd love to improve on my best Open finish, which was 15th at St. Andrews in 1995."

Strange goings-on at Monifieth, where Thomas Gogele, of Germany, and England's Steve Webster putted out each other's balls on the sixth and, as the mistake was not noticed by either player until they reached their drives on the seventh fairway. Result -- a double disqualification.

Jean Van de Velde, the talented Frenchman, was in superb form at Monifieth as he compiled his second successive 67 to win by a shot from Christopher Hanell, of Sweden, and American Len Mattiace.

"I am happy," Van de Velde said. "I played well, but there is an awful long way to go yet. The pins were a lot more difficult today and harder to go for."

"Still, I have to say I'm pleased with my game. I think I did pretty well to get to the 17th before I had a bogey. I'm going to Carnoustie in good heart." Van de Velde had five birdies -- they won't be as easy to come when the action starts in earnest.


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