Greg Hurley and Lucy Jamieson handled the strong winds that swept across the Jubilee course at St Andrews better than their peers to lead after the opening round of The R&A Student Tour Series Grand Final.
Stirling University student Hurley was the only player in the men’s field to break 70, fashioning a four-under 68 in breezes that had players clubbing up or down two, or three clubs to handle the conditions. The sports management student made just one mistake, a double bogey on the seventh hole. He holds a two-shot lead over Maynooth University player Ryan Griffin, joint winner of the R&A Student Tour Series – Portugal.
Strong putting round
“I putted really well today,” said the 21-year-old, who holds a plus four handicap at The Hertfordshire Golf Club. “My pace was quite good and I managed to pick out the lines on the greens. I hit a lot of greens and got it in play off the tee, except for the seventh.”
Hurley is in his third year at Stirling. He says his game has improved steadily under the tutelage of former European Tour professional and Walker Cup player Dean Robertson, Stirling’s high performance coach.
“Dean’s been a great mentor,” Hurley said. “He’s testing us all the time; we’re always measuring our progress. My game has improved tremendously. I feel like I can control my ball flight in the wind now and that was important in today’s conditions.”
St Andrews player Jamieson benefitted from home course advantage to return a two-under-par 72. She leads Stirling’s Penny Brown by three shots.
“It helps that I’ve played this course a lot, being a student here,” said Jamieson, a plus four member of Heswell Golf Club. “It’s an advantage to know the lines off the tee. It’s just a very tight golf course and you’ve got to keep the ball in play.”
The chemistry student offset four bogeys with six birdies playing alongside order of merit leader Lorna McClymont. An added bonus was that the pair and playing companion Megan Giles of Plymouth University took just three hours and 39 minutes despite the conditions.
“I’m obviously happy to shoot two-under because the wind was brutal,” Jamieson added. “It was behind us on the back nine. It’s difficult when you’re hitting two or three clubs less and trying to keep the ball on the greens.”
McClymont recovers from poor start
McClymont recovered from a poor start that saw her play the front nine in 42 shots, including successive double bogeys at the second and third holes. She came home in 36 shots for a four-over 78, and sits just six shots off the lead.
“I’ll take four over par, especially after the first three holes.”
Adjusting on the fly
The 21 year old admitted fatigue after playing for Scotland in last week’s European Nations Cup in Sotogrande, where she finished in 11th position individually.
“I didn’t make things easy because I flew back from Spain yesterday and wasn’t able to play a practice round,” the Stirling student said.
“I’ve gone from polar opposites because the greens at Sotogrande were like glass. These greens aren’t slow but it’s a case of trusting yourself to hit putts hard enough. It’s a big adjustment and I didn’t have time to adjust. I had to adjust while I was playing.
Ignoring the rewards on offer
McClymont, who is chasing a fourth successive Student Tour Series win, holds a 140-point order of merit lead over teammate Nicola Slater, but there are double points on offer this week. The plus 5 member of Milngavie Golf Club is trying to ignore the rewards that come with topping the order of merit and winning the tournament: a second appearance in the international team to play the Arnold Palmer Cup, and a spot in an LET Access Series tournament.
“I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself but I’d be lying if I said winning the order of merit wasn’t in the back of my mind,” the Scottish international admitted.”
Maynooth’s David Kitt, winner of the R&A Student Tour Series – Scotland last September, is also trying to ignore his order of merit position; he leads Maynooth teammate Griffin by 87 points. Kitt returned a one-over 73 to be five shots off the lead.
Aside from a place in the Arnold Palmer Cup, victory this week means a spot in a Challenge Tour event.
“Every time you tee it up you want to win, but obviously this week there is no more incentive because of the prizes on offer,” the business and management student said. “Good golf takes care of everything, and that’s what I’ll try to play over the next two rounds.”
Shot of the day
St Andrews player Megan Ashley found the perfect way to handle the winds. The American punctuated her round with an eagle at the par-4 18th when her 9-iron approach shot found the bottom of the cup.