Saltman and Co enjoy their graduation days

The 19-year-old amateur outscored his playing partners Rich Beem of America and Peter Baker of England to make the cut on level par after rounds of 73 and 71. An excellent 68 yesterday took him to four under par at 212.

Baker, one of captain Ian Woosnam's assistants for the Ryder Cup match against the United States at the K Club in Kildare next year, would have gained an intimate insight into the form and temperament of a teenager who, sooner or later, seems destined to represent Europe in the biennial showpiece of professional golf.

In the meantime Saltman is one of the chosen few to play for Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup against the Americans at the Chicago Golf Club next month, when the invaders will be going for four wins in a row.

Saltman, a former Scottish boys' strokeplay champion, blazed a trail in the amateur game, winning not only the Brabazon but the St Andrews Links Trophy, the last two rounds of which were played at the Old Course.

Even in the exalted company of The Open Championship, Saltman said he feels at home here. He will be courted by the game's leading agents because it appears the world is his oyster bed.

His father Jack was a show jumper, his mother Dawn is a model who is the daughter of the former Hibernian goalkeeper Tommy Younger.

Young Saltman would appear to be a model professional in the making. On Friday, when he soaked up what he described as the "fantastic atmosphere'', he recorded seven birdies, which is more than Tiger Woods managed in the second round.

Saltman, wearing a wristband with the message "Live strong'', had already shown impressive form, scoring 67 and 69 in final qualifying at Scotscraig.

He was not the only Scottish amateur to make the cut. Eric Ramsay, a 25-year-old from Carnoustie, appeared on the leaderboard following a four under par 68 in the first round. "It was certainly a little different to regional qualifying at Renfrew,'' he said.

"There was no one watching me at Renfrew. I have probably played between 20 and 25 rounds at the Old Course but I have never scored lower than that. I was just relaxed, having fun. I didn't see my name on the leaderboard until the last fairway which was quite good. I was more nervous when I arrived here on Monday and saw all the stars on the practice ground.''

Ramsay, whose 74 yesterday put him on level par, lives at home and is supported by his parents Dave and Ann and a sum of money from the Lottery Fund. Prior to The Open he had made only one appearance on the Challenge Tour. Earlier this year he won the Australian Amateur Championship but unlike Saltman was not selected for the Walker Cup team. He plans to turn professional in September.

Two other amateurs made the cut, Matthew Richardson of England and Edoardo Molinari of Italy. All four are making their debuts in The Open. The 19-year-old Richardson is a former Middlesex boys' champion and earlier this year he had an invitation to play in the KLM Open on the European Tour. He shot 77 and 70 and missed the cut. Richardson secured his place here after a 69 in the second round and in part he credits his progress to Ernie Els. "I couldn't believe how simple my mindset was when I got to the first tee on Thursday,'' Richardson said. "I saw my coach David Leadbetter and he got me a practice game with Ernie.

"I had a great day. I worked on a couple of things, like balance and posture and when I got to the first tee in the first round I didn't even have a twitch of nerves. It was unbelievable. There have been so many tournaments where my knees have been wobbling. I felt it would happen again but it didn't.

"I am not a big believer in religion but I think Ernie is God. He is an unbelievable bloke. His body language and his attitude just rubs off on you. I must have carried that on through the first two rounds.'' Sadly, not yesterday, though; a 77 left him on five over.

Molinari is a 24-year-old engineering student at the University of Turin. He was due to graduate next week but has put it off until September. He plans to turn professional at the end of the year and hopes to follow his brother Francesco, who plays on the European Tour. Edoardo, who is on two under after a 74 obviously has potential. In 1996 he won the English boys' championship, beating Justin Rose in a play-off.

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