Golf: Young gun's record spree

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The Independent Online
DAVID GRIFFITHS, a teenager from Watford, thanked the gifted young Spaniard, Sergio Garcia, for inspiring him yesterday as he came through the Open championship regional qualifying in record-breaking fashion at Copt Heath.

Griffiths, also 19, said: "I've played five or six times with Garcia and after he won the Irish Open in such style I said myself that if he can do it, so can I." The England boy international then matched the Spanish golfer's closing 64 at Druids Glen to knock two strokes off the course record. The best round of Griffiths' career contained nine birdies and his only blemish was a bogey at the 12th.

Garcia left the amateur ranks in April with a handicap of plus 5.6, the lowest in Europe. Griffiths' now stands at plus three. However, he insists he is in no rush to join the professional ranks. "I'm enjoying myself too much," he said.

He now goes through to the 36-hole final qualifying competition at four courses near Carnoustie next Sunday and Monday, when 480 players will be competing for around 40 places in the championship.

Sixteen courses were used for regional qualifying yesterday and Griffiths was not the only player to go on a record spree. Gavin Beddow, an assistant professional, equalled the course record with a five-under-par 66 at Stockport, after being involved in a car crash before his round. Beddow, from Newcastle- under-Lyme, was hit a couple of miles from the course. A wing was ripped off his car and the other driver sped off. "I was livid. It's an old car but the only one I've got and it's going to cost hundreds of pounds to repair," said the 25-year-old Beddow.

He tried not to think about the incident when he teed off and after opening with a bogey collected no fewer than eight birdies. The Dutchman Joost Steenkamer matched Beddow's score only 20 minutes later.

Steve Bottomley, the Yorkshireman who was a shot away from being involved in the play-off between John Daly and Costantino Rocca at St Andrews in 1995, failed to come through at Moortown.

Brian Marchbank, the former Scottish professional champion, had set the pace at Glenbervie with a five-under-par 66. He went to the turn in 33 with three birdies and just one dropped shot and then came back in 33 with three more birdies.

Scores, Digest, page 27