Jamie McLeary falls just short in Open bid

Jamie McLeary missed out by a shot at Glasgow Gailes. Pic: John Devlin

Jamie McLeary missed out by a shot at Glasgow Gailes. Pic: John Devlin

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BONNYRIGG-BASED Jamie McLeary found his putting touch too late to book an Open spot for the second year running.

The Challenge Tour pro finished one shot shy in the final qualifying at Gailes Links, where he was successful 12 months ago.

Having opened with a 63 on that occasion, McLeary left himself with a mountain to climb after taking ten shots more in his first round this time around.

But he got tantalisingly close after covering his final seven holes in a second-round 68 for a one-under-par total.

“I missed everything on the greens in the morning and on the front nine in the afternoon as well,” said the Marriott Dalmahoy-attached player.

“I probably missed 12 putts inside ten feet in that stretch and you simply can’t be doing that.”

As the putts finally started to drop, the recent KPMG Trophy winner birdied the 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes.

“I holed six-footers at the 16th and last but in between I missed from ten feet for a birdie at the 17th.”

While the scoring was higher than 12 months ago, McLeary insisted: “I thought it was much easier today.

“It was less bouncy than last year so you were able to get it closer to the flags.

“I putted very well last year but didn’t today and that was the difference.”

He finished as the leading Lothians player in joint fifth, followed by Turnhouse touring pro Duncan Stewart, who ended up in a share of 13th on 144 (72-72)

There was disappointment, too, for Elliot Saltman as the Archerfield ace fell away in the afternoon.

He was sitting joint fourth after an opening 69 but dropped out the reckoning following an afternoon 79, finishing joint 31st.

West Linton’s Gareth Wright was also unable to repeat his feat from two years ago, finishing joint 19th on three-over (74-71).

Feeling the effects of his recent exertions, Craigielaw amateur Grant Forrest was unable to get into the reckoning either.

Another player that made it into Muirfield in 2013, he ended up in a share of 31st on six-over (76-72).

Bruntsfield Links amateur Stuart McLaren didn’t seem to have much fun in his opening 83 but he showed grit and determination to show a ten-shot improvement in the afternoon.

Unlike three-times major winner Vijay Singh, Andrew Oldcorn informed R&A officials that he’d not be taking up a spot earned through the regional qualifier at Bruntsfield Links.

“I decided against playing due to the fact I’ve got a dodgy knee and playing 36 holes in the one day was asking too much,” said the former PGA champion.

“With a Senior Tour event in Switzerland later this week, I’ve got to prioritise. It wasn’t worth the risk so it was better giving someone else an opportunity.” Unfortunately for Keith MacKenzie, his journey to Ayrshire went unrewarded after the second reserve was left kicking his heels along with fellow Scottish amateur Craig Ross. “I left Edinburgh at 4.30am this morning but Vijay Singh was the only player to drop out from the overnight draw, so it wasn’t to be,” said the Bruntsfield Links man.

Englishman Mark Young claimed top in Ayrshire by two shots after rounds of 68 and 70.

“I only turned professional in November last year, having worked as a conservatory fitter prior to that. It was now or never,” said the 33-year-old. “It will be a dream come true to play in The Open at St Andrews – where better to play in one?”

The two other spots at the Irvine venue went to English amateur Paul Kinnear and Kiwi Ryan Fox. Kinnear, a 21-year-old from Liverpool who plays his golf at Formby, birdied the first extra hole and Fox beat Edinburgh-born Welshman Rhys Davies at the next.

Raymond Russell, a Prestonpans man but now based near London, was among the hopefuls at Royal Cinque Ports in Kent.

The former Cannes Open champion had an opening 73 before storming through the field with a second-round 67. It was a great effort but he finished joint fourth, three shots behind English trio Gary Boyd, Alister Balcombe and Ben Taylor.

Colin Montgomerie missed out at Woburn, where the spots were claimed by Dumfries-born Robert Dinwiddie, Irish amateur Paul Dunne and Retief Goosen.

Two-times US Open champion Goosen beat Jamie Moul and Adam Gee in a play-off to secure his spot.

American amateur Jordan Neibrugge came through at Hillside along with Scott Arnold and Pelle Edberg.

With no Scots among the 12 qualifiers, it means that only Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle, Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren are in the St Andrews line-up at the moment.