Wilson revels in the pursuit of his history

Glory day as a Scot wins Amateur Championship at the home of golf for first time since 1936
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Any victory, whatever the competition, over the Old Course has a special resonance but, even in a world of big-money sport, perhaps never more so than for a Scot in the Amateur Championship. Stuart Wilson, raiding the Kingdom of Fife from nearby Forfar, became the first to achieve the honour since Hector Thomson in 1936.

Any victory, whatever the competition, over the Old Course has a special resonance but, even in a world of big-money sport, perhaps never more so than for a Scot in the Amateur Championship. Stuart Wilson, raiding the Kingdom of Fife from nearby Forfar, became the first to achieve the honour since Hector Thomson in 1936.

Wilson's 4 and 3 win over Somerset's Lee Corfield put the 26-year-old Walker Cup player on the same roll of honour as Bobby Jones, from his grand slam year of 1930, as well as the famous English amateurs Harold Hilton and John Ball and the late Irishman Joe Carr.

"The Walker Cup win was great, but on a personal level it doesn't get better than this," Wilson said. "This is such a special year for the Amateur and being here, it's fantastic. I love St Andrews and always will. I thought it might be my year because I know this place so well." Five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, presumably no relation to Hector but no doubt purring over Wilson's touch around the greens, was part of possibly the most distinguished gallery ever to watch the final.

It has been a grand week to be in St Andrews as the Royal and Ancient celebrated their 250th anniversary with a series of dinners in a gigantic marquee by the first tee, the second biggest ever constructed in Britain at 6,000 square metres. Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, was due to be at last night's function, but in a last-minute political U-turn went to the D-Day remembrances instead and so missed witnessing Wilson's fine display in surviving the 36-hole strokeplay qualifying, five 18-hole matches and the final.

The most high-profile match during the week probably took place up the road at Kingsbarns and featured the captain of the R & A, otherwise known as the Duke of York, and Sir Michael Bonallack, the five-time Amateur champion and former secretary of the R and A, in a 2 and 1 win over Tim Finchem, the US Tour commissioner, and Arnold Palmer. But most important was yesterday's affair, when Wilson earned the right to tee up in the Open at Royal Troon next month and in the 2005 Masters at Augusta.

Wilson, who works in the Monifieth branch of the Auchterlonies golf shops, is unlikely to turn professional, and may follow in the footsteps of Gary Wolstenholme, last year's champion, in remaining a career amateur. He certainly has Wolstenholme's ability to wear down opponents despite not being the longest off the tee. "He's an artist," murmured a blazered marshal as Wilson sent another long putt over the humps and hollows to within inches of the hole.

Corfield, the more powerful player, is a member of the English Golf Union's élite squad and their lone representative since Thursday evening. The Burnham and Berrow player is solid of build and character and won his quarter-final when he was not ahead until the 19th.

But his touch deserted him yesterday morning as he three-putted three times in the first four holes and six times in all before lunch. He missed a chance at the 17th to get back to two down as the hole was halved in fives, only Wilson's second bogey of the day, despite the Scot being in the Road Hole bunker.

There are bunkers named Hell and Kitchen on the Old Course, but none is more likely to prompt thoughts in the language of Gordon Ramsay than the one in front of the 17th green. The pit, small but deep and steep, remains as controversial as ever, with some thinking the penalty is too severe but others reckoning that as it has been there for roughly 600 years, it is something competitors might be aware of. Corfield benefited twice on Friday from his opponents' misfortunes on the 17th, but not this time as Wilson escaped safely.

There was only half-an-hour for lunch, a result of their twoball taking four hours, and Corfield spent most of it on the putting green. But the only holes he won in the afternoon came when Wilson's drives flirted with the gorse bushes. "That was hell out there," Corfield said. "I had putted solid all week but it let me down today. I just couldn't see the lines. But it has been a great week."

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