Golf: Paul Ferrier is beaten but unbowed

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BABERTON’S Paul Ferrier is already looking forward to his second bite of the cherry in a bid to join golf’s big guns in next month’s Open.

The 23-year-old missed out on a spot in the Lytham event after seeing his brave bid in the Amateur Championship at Troon derailed in the semi-finals. Ferrier admitted it has been a disappointment to come tantalisingly close to that as well as berths in next year’s Masters and US Open.

But he headed home from Ayrshire determined to pick himself up for another challenge on Monday, when he heads to Goswick near Berwick for one of the Open regional qualifiers.

“It’s only the start of the summer and there’s plenty to look forward to,” said the Capital star after losing 3 and 2 to Irishman Alan Dunbar.

“I’ve got Open qualifying on Monday, so we’ll start again for that. My head is in the right place and everything is good.”

As was the case when he won the Scottish Boys’ Championship at Dunbar in 2007, Ferrier was a credit to his club and county in Ayrshire.

The fact he qualified for the match-play stage just a week after coming home from the United States after recently completing a four-year degree was a feat in itself. He then beat some top-class players to reach the last four, earning his place there with a morning win yesterday over Aussie ace Matthew Stieger. The Lothians star then got off to a flying start against Dunbar by winning the opening hole of their match with a birdie-3.

However, the Irishman showed his class with a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth and from then on always just held the upper hand.

“It’s been a good week and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Ferrier, who will defend his East of Scotland Open title at Lundin at the end of the month. “It’s a shame it ended the way it did. On the 15th hole, I let it slip, misjudged my pitch and put it off the back of the green.

“Two down with three to play leaves you with a lot of work, especially with a par-5 coming up, too. I had my chances today but sometimes in matchplay that momentum doesn’t go your way.

“I’ve had the momentum most of the week but not today. I have no complaints, though. I would’ve loved to have gone one better, well two better, but I can take a lot from this week.”

Dunbar’s opponent in today’s 36-hole final will be Austrian Matthias Schwab, who beat local hero Jack McDonald by two holes in the other last-four clash.

“I’m shattered now,” admitted McDonald after his defeat, having earlier fell England’s Toby Tree at the 19th in the morning quarter-finals.

“I’ve been working on adrenalin most of the time.”

The 19-year-old Stirling student added: “It’s been a big step for me to reach this stage.

“It’s been a big learning experience and hopefully we can move on and put myself in the picture for a Scotland cap.” In addition to Goswick, Open qualifying also takes place in the Capital on Monday, when Bruntsfield Links hosts another of the annual scrambles for spots.

Among the hopefuls there will be David Law, winner of the Scottish Amateur and Northern Open last year. West Linton’s Gareth Wright, winner of an Optical Express event on the Tartan Tour at Dundonald this year, is also in the field, as is John Gallagher.

As for the traditional batch of amateurs, they include host club duo Alan Anderson and Keith MacKenzie as well as James Ross from neighbouring Royal Burgess.