Gullane teenager Oliver Mukherjee has lived The Amateur dream at Nairn this week.
The 15-year-old has savoured the type of experience any aspiring golfer would crave in The 126th Amateur Championship over the Highland links.
Late on Sunday, he came off the reserve list to join a dream grouping for the opening two stroke play rounds to become the youngest player in the field.
After home player Sandy Scott was forced to withdraw with his persistent wrist injury, Mukherjee took his place and found himself teeing up alongside two Walker Cup players – namely Jack Dyer and Mark Power.
Facing the most nerve-wracking first tee shot of his young life, Mukherjee went on to handle himself well and enjoy the occasion alongside two players of pedigree.
Joking down the 1st fairway that he last saw England’s Dyer and Irishman Power on TV last month for the Walker Cup showdown at Seminole, the East Lothian player lapped up his 36 holes in their company.
“It was a really cool experience, especially playing with two Walker Cup players,” said Mukherjee, who posted a total of 15-over-par to miss out on qualifying for the match play stage.
“It was probably the most nervous tee shot of my life on the 1st, but it went right down the middle so it was fine. They were really nice and it was good fun.
“They made it look so easy, just really good golf. They rolled in putts from everywhere.”
Mukherjee, whose twin brother is also a scratch player, added: “I would like to play in a couple more of these events and will definitely be back next year. I’m looking forward to the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Cinque Ports & Prince’s in August, so I’ll maybe win that one!”
Dyer, who finished second in stroke playing qualifying behind Matthew Clark after rounds of 68 and 67, was also delighted to see the young Scottish player enjoy his opportunity.
One for the future
Dyer: “It’s so good to see these guys playing these events when they are only 15 years old. It was funny, walking down the 1st, Oliver said ‘the last time I saw you two was on the TV!’
“It was cool, I said ‘if you want any advice just ask away’. I had dinner with him as well and gave him some advice.
“He’s a great kid and has a bright future. His attitude was great, didn’t let things get him down and he is one for the future.”
Power, who also came through qualifying, added: “It was a pity that Sandy had to pull out, but it was great to meet Oliver.
“He’s only 15, but he has got great potential. It’s good to see young guys like that get the chance to play in a big event like this.
“I was very impressed with his game and, when he grows up, he will definitely be one to watch.
“I’ve been in his shoes where you’re just trying to gain experience. Now it’s a bit different and I feel I’ve got much better in terms of handling expectation and pressure. That comes with experience.”