Playing at Scottish Open beats moving for Jamie McLeary

Jamie McLeary
Jamie McLeary
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Jamie McLeary has a good excuse for missing out on helping with a house move on Thursday – he’s teeing up in the first round of the Scottish Open at Gullane.

The 37-year-old secured his spot in the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event through a weekend qualifier at Longniddry along with Duncan Stewart, Peter Whiteford and Conor O’Neil.

That success left a smile on McLeary’s face as it meant he’ll be locking horns with some of the world’s top golfers in a $7million tournament instead of lumping boxes into a removal van.

“We’re moving from Bonnyrigg to Springfield near Coupar – and we’re handing the keys over on Thursday,” said the Deer Park-attached professional.

“My wife, Cheryl, has packed most of the stuff, so I’m happy that I don’t need to do any of the packing.

“All she has said was to make sure I make it to the weekend so she can come and watch me!”

McLeary first played in the Scottish Open as an amateur in 2004 before playing twice at Castle Stuart in 2014 and 2016 in recent years.

He held a European Tour card on both those occasions and played in 18 events on the Challenge Tour last season, but is no longer travelling around the Continent.

“I do miss it,” he admitted. “I don’t miss the travelling but I do miss playing golf where you’re actually trying to get somewhere rather than just playing for money.

“But, after we’ve moved, I think I’ll start playing a bit more, maybe on the Challenge Tour again.”

Also delighted to have earned this week’s opportunity in a field that includes Masters Champion Patrick Reed and world No.3 Justin Rose is Whiteford.

He played on the European Tour five seasons in a row and came close to winning the 2013 Ballantine’s Championship in Korea, losing to Australian Brett Rumford in a play-off.

But, due to having arthritis in both his hips, the 37-year-old rarely plays at all now and his day job is working in the pro shop at Linlithgow Golf Club.

“I’ve probably only played 10 rounds this year,” said the Fifer. “My boss, Calum Lawson, gave me the week off to get ready for the qualifier so I hit a lot of balls in preparation for that and also last week’s Open qualifier.

“I hit the ball nicely at The Renaissance Club actually, a lot better than I did at Longniddry, so it was a bit disappointing not to do a bit better in that but Sunday definitely made up for that.

“Due to injuries, I’ll need to be careful how many balls I hit this week. That’s the reason, after all, that I had to stop playing in the first place.

“I’ve got arthritis in both hips and it gets painful the more I practice, so I will have to try and do a good job managing my time this week.

“I’m super ecstatic to be here. It will be nice to see a few old faces and my wife, Gabby, will be happy as she will be able to catch up with all the WAGS.

“It’s a chance to earn some money this week but career-wise it’s not the same as it used to be for me.”

The event has been hit by two unfortunate late withdrawals after Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson both pulled out. Fleetwood feels he needs a week off to get ready for The Open, while Stenson has an elbow injury.

However, the line-up still boasts seven players from the world’s top 20 and 17 from the top 50.