Golf: Sad McGhee knows it’s only a game

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DUDDINGSTON’S James McGhee shrugged off a last-hole three-putt in the opening round of the Northern Open by using the recent sudden death that shook the Capital 
golf scene to keep things in perspective.

“What happened to Neil Shillinglaw was absolutely tragic,” said the 28-year-old of the well-known Glencorse man dropping dead at the age of 47 after suffering a heart attack in Spain.

“It certainly helps you put things in perspective. What’s the point of beating yourself up over something that happens out on a golf course?”

McGhee was speaking after carding a one-under 69 to sit just three shots off the lead in the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored event at Meldrum House. Most of the players competing in the 72-hole event knew Shillinglaw through his job as a sales rep for golf manufacturing giant Acushnet.

“Neil helped me out a lot with clothing, shoes etc and everyone on the range knew him as well,” added McGhee.

“He was a real character and his death has made me want people to appreciate me more for being a nice guy than what I can achieve hitting a golf ball.”

Among the players McGhee set out trying to catch in today’s second round was former Mortonhall man David Patrick.

Less than a week after finding himself in joint-last spot after a first-round 83 in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, Patrick bounced back to form with a four-under 66.

It earned him a share of second spot, one behind two-time Northern Open winner Jason McCreadie from Buchanan Castle.

“It was just one of those days,” said Patrick of his opening effort in Perthshire, where, in fairness, he shot a battling 71 in the second round.

The former Challenge Tour winner opened his latest event with a flawless four-birdie effort, getting up and down from 70 yards to save par after his only slack shot of the day at the par-5 16th.

Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick opened with a 69, one better than Ally Mackenzie, who was pleased with his effort given that he had spent last week on caddying duties at Gleneagles for Englishman Chris Gane.

“I played pretty decent considering my practice round was the first time I’d played in eight days,” said the 31-year-old former Liberton man.