Banchory’s Sam Locke emulated the achievement of Colin Montgomerie 30 years ago to storm to glory in the Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship at Prestwick.
The 18-year-old achieved his biggest success in the game after a thumping 9&8 win over Anglo-Scot Ryan Lumsden from Royal Wimbledon, sealing an automatic spot in the Scotland side for this month’s Men’s Home Internationals.
The last winner to achieve such a margin of victory in the 36-hole final was Ryder Cup stalwart Montgomerie at Nairn in 1987, when he defeated fellow Ayrshireman Alasdair Watt.
Locke, a former Scotland Boys’ international and part of the Paul Lawrie Foundation, raced to a five-up lead after nine holes as Lumsden, 20, struggled to five over par to the turn. Locke, who is coached by his dad, Andrew, then birdied five of the last eight holes to remarkably lead 10 up at lunch, an advantage he was unlikely to ever lose.
When Locke’s tee shot came back off the wall at the 19th rather than going out of bounds, Lumsden surely knew it wasn’t his day. The Royal Wimbledon member battled back to eight down at the 23rd, helped with an eagle at the 21st, but back-to-back birdies from Locke at the 24th and 25th virtually ended the contest.
With Locke placed outside the top 1,000 in the world amateur golf rankings, it was a notable scalp for the north-east player. Lumsden, after all, has performed well at Northwestern University in the US, represented Scotland last month at the European Amateur Team Championship and is placed inside the world’s top 200.
Locke, victorious from a 264-player field at this year’s new-look event, said: “Montgomerie is not a bad guy to follow in the footsteps of! I wouldn’t mind his career.
“I played really solid this morning, didn’t really do much wrong and holed a few putts. Whenever you do that you are going to be pretty hard to beat in matchplay.
“It’s nice to finally get a big win under my belt and hopefully I can kick on from here and enjoy more success. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and practice hard.”
On his support from 1999 Open champion Lawrie, he added: “Paul has been brilliant for me, since I was about 14. He got me into his Foundation and has helped me with all parts of my game, as well as the mental side. It’s great to pick up the phone and ask him anything when I need to.
“Banchory have also been brilliant, done a lot for me as a club since a young age and it was great to have people down supporting me today, including my dad.”
Lumsden, who will join Locke in the Home Internationals side bound for Moortown, rued his poor start and said: “It was just one of those days. I didn’t hit it as good as I’ve hit it this week and I found myself in the semi rough a lot of times and did a poor job of controlling the ball from there.
“My putting was also very poor, and Sam played just great golf. He made every putt he looked at, it seemed like, and shot a great score in the morning. In the afternoon, I was mentally a little better and more aggressive but it was his day. The score says it all and he deserved to win. He was better than me today.”
It was the 90th staging of the Scottish Amateur, with Locke joining a winners’ list that also includes Ronnie Shade, Charlie Green, Stephen Gallacher, Andrew Coltart, Dean Robertson and, more recently, David Law and Grant Forrest.
Prestwick, the first host of The Open Championship in 1860, was in terrific shape for the event, along with neighbours Prestwick St Cuthbert for the 36-hole strokeplay qualifying. Prestwick staged the championship for the ninth time, with John Gallagher the last winner at the venue in 2007.