Scottish Open: Duncan Stewart bids to set up Russsell Knox reunion

Duncan Stewart has his sights set on another East Lothian reunion with his best pal Russell Knox.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 6:30 am
Duncan Stewart has some big ambitions for this summer. Pic: SNS
Duncan Stewart has some big ambitions for this summer. Pic: SNS

Stewart won last year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open qualifier at Longniddry to join Knox in the Rolex Series event at Gullane.

Now the Turnhouse-attached player is hoping to repeat the feat at the same venue this weekend, though to earn a place in a star-studded field at The Renaissance Club on this occasion.

“I am really looking forward to this weekend as I think it’s great to have all the best players in Scotland who are not in the Scottish Open battle it out for the four spots up for grabs,” said Stewart.

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On a fast-running course 12 months ago, he fired two 66s for a four-under-par total before beating Conor O’Neil in a play-off to secure top spot and a £5,000 first prize.

Peter Whiteford and Jamie McLeary were the other two qualifiers on three-under, with Stewart anticipating another keenly-fought contest this time around.

“The standard on all tours this year has been incredible, so I think it’s going to be a very tight affair once again,” added the Kirkliston-based player.

“It was great to win the qualifier last year but the main objective was to finish top four and get in the main event and we are all really grateful that Aberdeen Standard Investments give us the opportunity to qualify.

“I really enjoy Longniddry. I played there on Tuesday and it’s looking in great shape again. It’s not as firm and bouncy as last year, but I was surprised to see that it’s still playing quite hard and fast.

“My season hasn’t really taken off yet, which is frustrating, but I feel my game is in good shape and it would mean a lot to get into the Scottish Open and play against the big names, including Russell, of course, which I get a real buzz from.

“Seeing all the Scottish boys doing so well this year really spurs the rest of us on because we are all rooting for each other.”

Stewart’s rivals in the 36-hole shoot-out are set to include Sam Locke, who came through a similar test at Fairmont St Andrews earlier in the week to qualify for The Open at Royal Portrush.

Connor Syme, who passed that same test for the Claret Jug event, had been in the initial Longniddry line up but he has now withdrawn.

A handful of amateur hopefuls in the field include Bathgate’s Joe Bryce and Kieran Cantley from Liberton.

Bryce will be hoping to reproduce the sort of form that helped him win the Craigmillar Park Open and Battle Trophy earlier in the year.

And Cantley would be in the mix if he repeated his seven-under 65 at Goswick when winning one of the regional qualifiers for The Open.

Other Lothians players in the field include Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick, Cameron Marr from Musselburgh and Ross Munro (golfclubs4cash).