Club professional's dream ruined by 'a triviality'

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The Independent Online
TIM GLOVER

Gordon Law has never played in the Open. Last year he failed to qualify for Turnberry by one stroke but this time it was different. Law shot 66 at Lundin Links yesterday and with an aggregate of 135 he had easily realised his dream of playing in the 124th Open at the home of golf. In the recorder's tent the dream became a nightmare.

Law, the 30-year-old professional from the Uphall club in Edinburgh, was disqualified after an extraordinary mix-up over the cards. Law signed for his 66 on a card bearing the name of one of his playing partners, the American Steve Reid. Reid signed for a 73 with a card bearing the name of Law. The third member of the party, Jonathan Langmead, shot 78 and his score, although irrelevant in terms of qualifying, was correctly marked.

At the start none of the players realised they had been handed the wrong cards. Langmead, thinking he had Law's card, marked it correctly but did not notice Reid's name at the top. When they came into the recorder's tent and handed in their cards they realised a mistake had been made. Law had been marked down as 69-73 (142) and Reid 76-66 (142) when it should have been 69-66 (135) and 76-73 (149) respectively.

David Harrison, an official of the Royal and Ancient, contacted the R and A at St Andrews and Law and Reid were disqualified. Had Law and Reid reversed the names on the two cards before handing them in they would not have been disqualified.

Reid's scores would not have got him in in any case but Law, who had one of the lowest aggregates at Lundin, was "totally devastated". He said: "It is unbelievable that you can be disqualified for what I consider to be a triviality. All the scores were right, the additions were right and the signatures were in the right places. All that was wrong is that it wasn't my name at the top of the card. In the tent I added up the figures 10 times and everything was right. The only thing I didn't check was the name at the top. It would have been a dream come true for a club professional like me to play in the Open at St Andrews especially considering that it was probably the best round of golf I have played in my life. Now I'll have to go and explain this a thousand times at my club."

Justin Rose, the 14-year-old from Hook in Hampshire, had a 70 at Scotscraig but with only 12 players going through from each of the four killing fields that masquerade as final qualifying courses, the schoolboy will have to wait at least another 12 months.

Steve Stricker, 26th on the US Tour money list with nearly $400,000, was heading for home after an experience that could put a strain on his marriage. He was penalised four strokes for carrying 15 clubs (one above the maximum) at Leven. Neither he nor his wife Nicki, who was caddieing for him, noticed the addition of a four-wood that was not in the bag in the first round. The only consolation was that even without the penalty they would not have qualified.

The American Tommy Armour III, the grandson of Tommy Armour who won the Open at Carnoustie in 1931, was so disgusted with his play yesterday that he walked off the course at the eighth hole.

n Tom Lehman has decided to be at the birth of third child rather than the Open. His withdrawal follows that of fellow Americans Fuzzy Zoeller and Fred Couples - both with bad backs - and Hale Irwin, who gave no reason.

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