Golf: Scots toast big final favourite: TIM GLOVER reports from Nairn Amateur Championship

Click to follow
HAVING been denied the prospect of the first all-Scottish final in the Amateur Championship since Willie Hunter annihilated Alan Graham at Royal Liverpool in 1921, the host nation was left with a considerable consolation yesterday in the shape of Gordon Sherry. No sooner had Sherry become the largest player to appear in a final than members at his home club in Kilmarnock Barassie were hiring coaches to take the high road to the Highlands.

Sherry, a 20-year-old who is studying biochemistry at Stirling University, defeated the 18-year- old Swede Kalle Brink 4 and 3 in the semi-finals and today will play the Englishman Lee James in the final over 36 holes. James put out Allan Turnbull from Peebles 2 and 1.

Apart from a splendid silver trophy which has been in the hands of, among others, the legendary Bobby Jones, the winner will receive an invitation to play in next year's Masters at Jones's course, Augusta National, as well as the Open Championship. 'I'll be motivated by that,' Sherry said. 'You can't blank that out.'

Sherry, 6ft 9in in his size 14 spikes and 17-and-a-half stone, has been encouraged here by his father William, a retired police sergeant. Old Bill, only slightly smaller than his son, has been barely less recognisable over the Nairn links.

It was only in the semi-finals that Sherry was satisfied with his play after scrambling through the earlier rounds. 'I'm very hard on myself,' he said. 'I want perfection all the time.'

He birdied the second, third, fourth and fifth holes, sinking a 40-foot putt at the latter and when he won the short sixth with a par he was four up.

Sherry went to the turn in 32 and when he hit a four-iron to five feet at the daunting 14th, a par three of 220 yards, Brink, who missed the green, knew his challenge was spent.

James and Turnbull were level at the turn after the Englishman won the ninth with a birdie. The championship is as much a test of stamina as skill and Turnbull faltered when they headed for home. He lost the 10th to a birdie four and when he bogeyed the 12th and 13th he had lost four holes out of five.

James, who plays at Broadstone in Dorset, was three up with three to play. His ambition is to play in the Walker Cup next year after which he will turn professional.

Both Turnbull and Brink had narrow escapes in the quarter- finals in the morning. Turnbull was one down with one to play against Martin Erlandsson when the 20-year-old Swede had a disastrous time and had to concede the hole.

At the first extra hole Turnbull pitched to four feet and made the putt for a three to Erlandsson's four.

Brink was also on the edge against the 17-year-old Carl Duke, the England schools' champion from Porters Park. Duke, one up with one to play, lost the 18th to a birdie four when Brink holed from 20 feet. It was a cruel blow from which Duke failed to recover for at the 19th he three-putted to lose the match.

Sherry before lunch was quite erratic but, despite the fact that his card contained a number of sixes and fives, he still managed to defeat Robert Shiels of Moray 2 and 1. It was a misleading aperitif to the semi-finals. It was not a dry Sherry for at one point play was suspended for 20 minutes as a storm erupted over the course.

The most impressive golf of the quarter-finals was played by James, who strung together four birdies from the fifth to move from level to four up and he put out Craig Watson 5 and 4.