Gregory on course for a shot at The Open

Scott Gregory. Picture: George Spear
Scott Gregory. Picture: George Spear
Scott Gregory

Gregory and Ellis key men for Walker Cup mission

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Scott Gregory is just one step away from achieving a dream of appearing at The Open after storming through regional qualifying.

The 18-year-old amateur, from Waterlooville, shot a brilliant one-under-par 70 at Hankley Common.

It means he claims one of 16 places to take him through to final qualifying at Musselburgh, Scotland.

With just three spots available for 75 competitors, the odds are not exactly in his favour in a 36-hole shoot-out for a place in next month’s battle for the famous Claret Jug at Muirfield.

But the talented Corhampton member has faith in his ability.

He could yet be rubbing shoulders with the world’s top professionals at the most famous major championship.

Gregory said: ‘There are bound to be some very good players there so it will be a strong field.

‘But as long as I play how I did at Hankley Common, go about my business in the same way and hole a few more putts, I think I’ve got a chance.

‘If I can shoot five or six under for 36 holes, I don’t think I will be far away.

‘Some players don’t think it’s worth trying because there are so few places available.

‘But it’s definitely worth a go. Someone has got to go through.

‘If you are a good player, you’ve got the ability to shoot a good score.

‘Everyone has got a chance – I have got as much chance as anyone else on the day.’

Gregory believes his patience and steady form ensured he was one of those celebrating.

Only two players bettered his score on the day.

He will stick to a similar strategy on the Scottish links next Tuesday.

There he will be joined by local professional Sam Hutsby and Meon Valley amateur Harry Ellis in the field.

Gregory said: ‘The gameplan was just to hit as many fairways and greens as possible and then knock a few putts in.

‘That’s easier said than done though!

‘But I hit 12 out of 14 fairways and 15 out of 18 greens and only had two birdies and one bogey. It was pretty steady stuff.

‘I knew if I shot somewhere close to level par or below, I would get in.

‘People get out there and try to chase a score but I wanted to stay focused and stay patient.

‘I knew that two-over-par got in at Hankley Common last year so anything under par would hopefully be fine. Thankfully it was.’

It is the plus-one handicapper’s first attempt at Open qualification but the Corhampton club champion is in good form.

He said: ‘Winning the club championship at Corhampton gave me a lot of confidence.

‘Now I’m just excited about it. I’m not nervous – I can’t wait to get out there and see what I can do.

‘It’s my chance to get into the best championship in the world.’

Gregory was not the only local qualifier either as Toby Burden (Hayling) made it through with 74 at Remedy Oak in Dorset.

But Ben Lobacz, Billy Mckenzie, Tom Wade, Sam Pleshette and Jamie Mist were among the local contingent to miss out.