Gregory goes close to Open dream

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Harry Ellis. Picture: PA Images

Ellis crashes out of US Amateur Championship

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Scott Gregory saw his dreams of a place at The Open dashed by just three strokes but insisted: It’s given me confidence.

The 18-year-old amateur, from Waterlooville, was chasing one of three spots at local final qualifying at Musselburgh.

But he came up narrowly short after a fine effort, finishing in a tie for fifth place.

He battled among a 75-strong field packed with top amateurs and professionals attempting to claim a spot at Muirfield later this month.

The Corhampton Golf Club member was left to rue a double bogey on the 18th in his second round.

He knew that he would have needed a birdie on one of the toughest holes on the East Lothian course.

But rounds of 68 and 71 saw him end up on three-under par and beat a host of professionals.

Meanwhile, Steven Tiley (-9), Lloyd Saltman and Tyrell Hatton (both -6) qualified.

Gregory said: ‘I was a bit gutted I didn’t qualify but I played well so I can’t really complain too much.

‘It was definitely worth going for it.

‘Playing against some of those players, you get to see where you are in relation to them.

‘And I wasn’t far off.

‘I did so many things well and now I’ve just got to look at the things I can improve on.

‘It’s definitely given me confidence.

‘There is a different feel when you are playing for a place in The Open. But I enjoyed it.’

A classy three-under-par 68 left Gregory in a tie for second place at the midway point in the 36-hole shoot-out.

But although he got himself to two-under par in his second round, a double bogey at the 18th – a monstrous 470-yard uphill par four – ended his hopes.

He explained: ‘I thought I still had a chance after about 16 holes on the second round.

‘I thought if I could get another birdie, I wouldn’t be too far away.

‘But I bounced off the back of a bunker and ended up behind a tree on the 18th.

‘So I had to chip out sideways and it left me about 260 yards to go.

‘When I had a putt for bogey, I thought it might not be enough.

‘I needed a birdie at the last and that would have been good enough to get me into a play-off.

‘But that last hole was so tough – I can’t imagine there were many birdies there all day.’

Gregory did beat a former Ryder Cup player along the way.

He said: ‘I played behind Jarmo Sandelin and he finished on four over.

‘He has won five times on the European Tour and played in the Ryder Cup in 1999.

‘But he said he’d been impressed with the way I played because he was in the group in front of me and he watched me hit a few shots. That was nice of him.’

Gregory, whose handicap has now been cut to plus two, is preparing for the English Amateur next month.

Meon Valley’s Harry Ellis also missed out at the same venue with two rounds of 74.

Hayling’s Toby Burden was among those left disappointed at Gullane, where Colin Montgomerie also failed to qualify.