Sherry unfazed by the big time

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The Independent Online
Success has not gone to Gordon Sherry's head. After his towering performance in the Scottish Open at Carnoustie, the Amateur champion yesterday had to fulfil his customary Sunday duty of visiting his grandmother, Agnes, in Kilmarnock.

Sherry had a little gift for her, a video of the Scottish Open. Agnes, who is nearly 80, had not seen coverage of the tournament because she does not have Sky. The video will make fascinating viewing and this week she will be able to watch her grandson on the BBC, playing in the Open Championship. Twelve months ago, Sherry was a spectator at the Open at Turnberry, a course on which he will defend the amateur title next summer.

Sherry, who is 21, is having a fabulous season but despite the huge temptation to turn professional, he will complete his studies in biochemistry at Stirling University. He is also studying for a diploma in education, which would qualify him to teach chemistry and biology.

"It's been incredibly tough," his mother, Anne, said. "I kept expecting him to drop a bombshell and tell us he was going to chuck it all in. They don't just give you a degree."

In 10 years of the Scottish Open, no amateur had ever made the half-way cut. After a 69 in the final round on Saturday, Sherry finished joint fourth on 283, seven behind Wayne Riley. Had he been a professional he would have won pounds 30,000. The family tries not to think about it.

Because of the cost, Anne and her husband, Bill, are unlikely to watch Gordon play in the Masters at Augusta next year, although his brother, Iain, may make the journey.

Sherry, apart from taking a pound off Tiger Woods - he bet the American amateur champion that he would finish higher than him - was presented with a silver quaich (a drinking cup) to mark the finest performance by an amateur in a European Tour event. Carnoustie Golf Club also honoured him. In 1992, to celebrate their 150th anniversary, they commissioned a special whisky, and they presented Sherry with a bottle.

He responded with: "This is the best links in the world," which was followed by enthusiastic applause. Then he added: "Apart from Kilmarnock Barassie." That, of course, is his home course. The whisky will remain on the shelf. "We're not drinkers," Anne said, "and Gordon doesn't touch a drop. With a name like Sherry we don't need to be."

The last amateur to win the Open was Bobby Jones, at Hoylake in 1930. It was at Hoylake that Sherry won the Amateur Championship last month. His triumph at Royal Liverpool enabled him to bury a few ghosts. He was second to Stephen Gallacher in the European Amateur Championship (a win that earned Gallacher a place in the Open), and also had to play second fiddle in the Lytham Trophy and the Scottish Champion of Champions tournament at Leven. He was second again in the St Andrews Links Trophy over the Old Course in May.

Before going to Carnoustie he played a sterling role, with a 100 per cent record, in the European Amateur Team Championship in Antwerp. Scotland beat England 6-1 in the final.

Today Sherry will play a practice round at St Andrews with Sam Torrance and Carl Mason; tomorrow he will partner Gary Player, and on Wednesday the Masters champion, Ben Crenshaw. As far as playing links golf is concerned, Sherry is more the master and Crenshaw, who missed the half-way cut at Carnoustie, the pupil.