ANDY Scrimshaw had posted a record round of six-under 66 on the scoreboard by lunchtime at Goswick yesterday, when he voiced his hopes of the ultimate dream scenario at The Open Championship for his club Close House.
Among the 400-plus players who have contested regional qualifying since the event moved to Berwick five years ago – it switches to the Northumberland club next summer – nobody had managed that until Hartlepool’s Alex Wrigley joined Scrimshaw on 66 during the afternoon.
The wind may have been down at the seaside, but this was still remarkable scoring on one of the most famous links courses in the country – on a day when the rough was so penal some players lost as many as half a dozen balls.
Wrigley will claim a minor bragging right in that he signed for a bogey-free round while Scrimshaw had one bogey alongside his seven birdies.
In yesterday’s Journal, we fantasised briefly on a dream scenario not only for Graham Wylie’s plush new golf empire but for North East golf in general – of Lee Westwood plus another Close House player going out last on Open Sunday at Lytham this year.
Scrimshaw, a 20-year-old assistant at the club, a former amateur with Prudhoe who delayed turning pro last year until he had played in The Journal Champion of Champions at Close House, now has to negotiate local final qualifying in Lancashire on July 3 to tee off in the Open at Lytham 16 days later.
He said: “Can it all happen? First I have to get through final qualifying and the odds are very heavily stacked against my going out last with Lee Westwood on Open Sunday and helping Lee represent Close House.
“It is not impossible, I shall go out and do my best and see where that takes me.
“I was pleased with my performance because I played for position with irons off the tees. I kept everything tidy.
“I played well within myself rather than going for everything with my driver like I usually do. If my putting had been hot it could have been a 62.”
The former England Schoolboys cap, seeking a main sponsor, has been given some initial assistance by four Close House members – Parry and Kath Jenkins and Geoff and Andrea Thompson.
He added: “As much as anything, the share of the record is for them. I really appreciate the kind help they have given me.”
Playing in the same group as Scrimshaw was Morpeth’s Mark Penny.
He had set the previous record for the modified links course at Goswick, a 67 when he captured the Northumberland Strokeplay Championship two years ago.
Scrimshaw and Wrigley were the only North East players to go through.
Mathew Webb, Ricky Lee and David Clark missed out by one shot on joining a four-man play-off which decided the last three places.
Westerhope’s George Cowan looked like making it when he went four under after ten holes, but he dropped five shots in three holes between 12 and 14.
The home club amateur Phil Swinney, also a member at next year’s host club, Northumberland, can be proud of a one-under 71 to show for his debut in the tournament.
Playing in the same group as Cowan, Swinney said: “For ten holes I had never seen anybody play as well on this course in the seven year I have been a member here as George did but then it was like a switch clicking – the lights just went out for him.”
66 Andy Scrimshaw (Close House), Alex Wrigley (Hartlepool).
67 Col Quhoun (Dundonald Links)
68 * Paul Ferrier (Baberton)
69 *Will Bowe (Workington), Michael Stewart (Troon Welbeck), Mark Kerr (Marriott Dalmahoy)
70 *Mathew Webb (Bedlingtonshire), *Ricky Lee (Tyneside), David Clark (Morpeth)
71 Mark Penny (Morpeth), James Wilkinson (Brampton), Michael Nesbit (Westerhope), *Phil Swinney (Goswick)
72 Jonathan Lupton (Close House), *Callum Tarren (Wynyard)
73 Ian Paxton (Hexham), James Harper (Seaton Carew)
74 Martyn Stubbings (Dinsdale Spa)
75 Richard Robson-Crosby (Ponteland), Ross Crowe (Westerhope), *Hugh Hamilton (Seaton Carew), George Cowan (Westerhope), *Sean Jackson (Magdalene Fields)
76 David Ord (Sunderland), Steve Harrison (Stocksfield)
79 *Elliott Wilson (Goswick), Charles Tetlow (Wynyard), Alex Dixon (City of Newcastle)
80 *Dean Harmer (Matfen Hall)
81 Andy Paisley (Hexham)