Golf: Sherry brings some cheer for home support

Golf TIM GLOVER reports from Carnoustie
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The Independent Online
When he is not studying bio-chemistry at Stirling University, Gordon Sherry is leaving his imprint on every available golf course. "I'm under no pressure because I'm not playing for money," Sherry said, "although I wish I was now."

Sherry is of the schooner size. He is almost 6ft 8in, 16st and, befitting the son of a policeman, takes a size 13 shoe. He is also the biggest talent in amateur golf and yesterday, following the third round of the Scottish Open here, he was in a minority of players under par for the championship. Last summer Sherry reached the final of the Amateur Championship at Nairn and was beaten by Lee James. This year he went one better and won the title at Hoylake, receiving a little local help from a Liverpool caddie by the name of Ray Graham. The two worked together so effectively that Sherry employed him for Carnoustie. If and when Sherry turns professional, Graham will have a lucrative bag.

After two relatively benign days on the Firth of Tay, Carnoustie played hard to get yesterday. Ian Woosnam, for example, lost touch with a 78 in cold, wet, miserable conditions. Play was delayed for nearly an hour at the start by a sea mist.

Sherry, from Kilmarnock, is, of course, accustomed to such conditions but even so his performance has been remarkable. While players of the stature of Seve Ballesteros and Ben Crenshaw were missing the half-way cut by the width of the Tay Bridge, Sherry made it comfortably after rounds of 73 and 70.

Last week in Belgium he was instrumental in guiding Scotland to a 6-1 victory over England in the final of the European Amateur Team Championship and he had a 100 per cent record. "When I arrived here I was knackered," he said. "All I was aiming for were two respectable rounds. I grew up on links courses and I know what it's all about." Yesterday Sherry, who is 21, shot 71 to improve his aggregate to two under par and he even managed to surpass the 19-year-old amateur sensation from the United States, Tiger Woods, who had a 75.

Sherry, like Woods, has no immediate plans to turn professional. As the amateur champion he gains exemption to the Open Championship at St Andrews next week and will play in the Masters at Augusta next April. He does a pretty good impression of Colin Montgomerie, but yesterday Big Monty would have liked to have been in Big Gordy's shoes.

Montgomerie began the day as joint leader with the Australian Wayne Riley at nine under par, but he could not make a single birdie in the third round. He had a double-bogey six at the third hole and his experience at the 18th personified a frustrating day. Riley, his playing partner, drew clear with four birdies and two bogeys and, at the last, his approach shot bounced short of the burn in front of the green but the ball hopped over the water. It enabled him to get a birdie four and, at 12 under par for the championship, he leads by five strokes from Nick Faldo and by six from Montgomerie.

At the last Monty's approach shot landed in the burn and after taking a penalty drop he recorded a bogey six in a round of 75 compared to Riley's 69. However, what really upset Montgomerie, who is considered to be one of the best putters in the game, was his inability to make any mark on the greens.

Faldo shot 71 with three birdies and two bogeys and will partner Riley in the final round today. In the past the life of Riley was not something that a young amateur would be advised to follow. "Age has mellowed me," Riley said. "I now go to my room, read a book and do what a lot of boring golfers do. I have a family and a stable life. I still have a good time but not as often. Carnoustie is a great test and the cream will come to the top. I'm at the top so I must be thick milk."

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 27