Golf: David Miller shines at Muirfield

Grant Forrest found the going very cold. Pic: Kenny Smith
Grant Forrest found the going very cold. Pic: Kenny Smith
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DUDDINGSTON’S David Miller shrugged off playing “rotten” in his practice round to be among the first-day winners in the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship at Muirfield.

On a cold and wet day on the East Lothian coast, the 2014 Lothians champion beat Prestwick St Cuthbert’s Craig Telfer 4&3.

“I’m pleasantly surprised 
because I’ve not played for two weeks,” said Miller. “And in my practice round on Saturday I played rotten. “I thought ‘oh no’ after that but when it came to being under the gun I actually played pretty well.”

In a match that saw him chip in at the second, Miller reckoned the par-5 ninth had proved the turning point.

“I was looking like going one down there as I was close to losing a ball when my caddie (dad Derek) found it in the nick of time,” he added. “I won that hole to go one up when it looked as though I was going to go one down and was solid after that on the back nine.”

Miller is making his first appearance in the SGU’s flagship since the 2010 tournament at neighbouring Gullane.

“The location is key for me these days,” he said. “The chance to play at Muirfield was also another big attraction this year.”

Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest, the 2013 winner and top seed, 
survived a scare as he joined Miller in round two.

Forrest, pictured, was two down early on against Eyemouth’s Mark Collin and still trailed with six holes to play before eventually winning 3&2.

“I can’t feel my hands or feet,” said Forrest of the unseasonal cold and wet conditions.

His last competitive appearance here was in the 2013 Open Championship. Baked dry on that occasion, the course is completely different this time.

“This golf course doesn’t take any prisoners when it is like this,” said Forrest, having lost a ball himself at the first.

“I’ve seen the rough higher in the past, but it’s thicker at the bottom than it normally is.”

Other Lothians players to progress on the opening day included Liberton’s Anthony Blaney and Callum Cochrane of Marriott Dalmahoy.

Blaney won at the last against Jamie Lamb from Lanark while Cochrane squeezed through at the 19th at the expense of Gullane’s Stuart Roberts.

One of the eight seeds is already out – Kirkhill’s Craig Ross losing to David Dickson from Bonnyton.

And there was also an early exit for Nairn’s Sandy Scott, who recorded a wire-to-wire win at Royal Burgess last week in the Scottish Youths’ Championship.