Golf: The Open - Scotland flies flag for youth

A 16-year-old from Surrey has fought his way through qualifying to test himself against the world's best

OTHER TEENAGERS will be queueing for Tiger Woods' autograph at the 128th Open Championship on Thursday. Zane Scotland will be competing against him. Yesterday the 16-year-old amateur became one of the youngest players to qualify for the world's oldest major.

Scotland hit a two-under-par 71 at Downfield to go with his first-round 69 to make it through the final pruning process that reduced 480 hopefuls into 48 starters.

Scotland, Manchester-born but attached to Woodcote Park, Surrey, was held up for an hour by mist yesterday but despite a sizeable gallery engendered by his first round, he began with a birdie. Even immediate successive bogeys could not shake his nerve and he reached the turn on par for the day.

He went one under with a four at the par five 11th, using his driver from the light rough to reach the green in two, and then chalked up a spectacular birdie four at the 14th. He played his drive into the undergrowth and could only hack out, but he lofted a shot high over the trees into a green-side bunker, then sunk his approach.

He then had to wait while the rest of the field finished, wondering whether his birdie putt at the 16th that lipped the hole would prove costly. In the end his 140 was enough.

"It was a really good putt but it just jumped out of the hole and I couldn't believe it," he said. "I always believe that it is best to put your bad shots behind you. I tend not to let things get me down. I've been pleased with my form the last two days and I have been striking the ball well."

The secretary at Woodcote Park, Tony Fensom, described Scotland as "the nicest lad you could ever meet. Everyone at the club is delighted. He doesn't come from a golfing background but he has clearly been one to watch right from the start. He won our club championship in 1996 and 1997 and he was coached by Derek Keppler, whose son Steve is a pro in America. Derek was always his mentor but he died at Christmas so I'm sure this will be a very emotional time for Zane."

By comparison to Scotland, Luke Donald's 21 years make him positively ancient but he qualified for the Open in royal style, breaking the course record at Panmuir with a five-under-par 65. His round included six birdies.

Donald is halfway through a four-year course in liberal arts at North Western University, Chicago, from where he won the National College Athletic Association championship, beating Tiger Woods' record stroke average on the way, and became the first Englishman to win the Fred Haskins Award for the college golf's outstanding player.

Warwickshire's Steve Webster, who won the silver medal as the leading amateur ahead of both Tiger Woods and Gordon Sherry at St Andrews in 1995, was disqualified along with German Thomas Gogele at Monifieth. The two playing partners' chances of qualifying were slipping away at two over and four over respectively when they putted each other's ball on the sixth green. The error was not realised until they had driven off on the seventh and so their championship was over.

Gary Wolstenholme, a member of the Britain and Ireland side which won the world amateur team title in Chile last November and also part of the BBC TV commentary team at the Open, failed to follow up his first round 66 on the same course.

Joint second at halfway, Wolstenholme scored a three-over 74 in the second round having gone out of bounds at the sixth. "When I wanted the ball to go left it went right and vice-versa."

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