Stuart just a shot away from glory

Stuart Hill
Stuart Hill

The first step towards making the dream of playing in next year’s Open Championship a reality has been taken by a member of the Duke’s Golf Club in St Andrews.

Stuart Hill, playing off +1, won the club’s Tiger Tees competition – and has earned a place in next month’s European Amateur Championship - to be played on the Duke’s.

Playing off the club’s black tees that measure a colossal 7,512 yards, Stuart beat off the competition by carding 75 to take the tournament title.

He will now return – with Europe’s elite amateur golfers – to compete in the Amateur Championship between August 6-9, and hopes to repeat his performance to take the title which will earn a much coveted place in the 2015 Open.

Stuart, 31, was taught to play golf by his grandfather - but has only been competing for the last few years.

He said: “When I was a boy, my granddad cut down and re–gripped his old nine iron for me to practice.

“I loved the game and joined Leven Thistle Golf Club when I was 12 but was always more interested in football.

“I started competitive golf in 2008 – and I joined the Duke’s three years ago.

“It is a stunning course and a massive test of any golfers’ ability.”

One of Stuart’s favourite golfers is Adam Scott and he has already shared a round with the Aussie.

“I had a game with him when he was qualifying for the 2000 Open at Leven and have followed his career ever since,” he said.

But if Stuart wins next month and earns his place on the Old Course next summer, he’d choose another player for his dream round.

“If I am fortunate enough to win through to be able to play The Open, I’d like to play with Ricky Fowler,” he said.

“He’s not your stereotypical golfer.

“I like the way he goes about his business.

“We would have a laugh.”

Derek Robson, interim manager of the Duke’s, congratulated Stuart, saying: “He played the course so well and deserved his victory.”

Other winners at the Duke’s Tiger Tees competition included Neil Brown who shot a net 75 off the blue tees to take the handicap title. Mags Coulter shot a net 76 off the green tees to win the ladies’ crown.