Scottish amateur Lumsden savours 'incredible' US Open


Lumsden is getting ready for his first major at the US Open
US Open, Shinnecock Hills, New York, 14-17 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on the BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live and Radio 5 live sports extra

Twelve months ago, Ryan Lumsden sat alone and disconsolate in a corner of the Prestwick clubhouse, 10 down at lunch in the Scottish Amateur Championship final.

Now, the little-known 21-year-old finds himself rubbing shoulders with Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods et al at the US Open.

“It’s incredible,” Lumsden says.

“Playing in a major is something you dream about, to have it finally around the corner is a great feeling.”

Lumsden’s route to star-studded Shinnecock Hills is just as intriguing as his background. Born in London, Lumsden plays for Scotland through his Edinburgh-born grandparents and his affinity for the country through golf visits to family in North Berwick.

A member of Scotland’s European amateur side last year, his game continues to flourish at the highly-regarded Northwestern University in Chicago – where former world number one Luke Donald attended – under the guidance of coach David Inglis, a Scot and ex-Walker Cup player.

Having carded a five-under-par 67 at the NCAA Championships and a top-10 finish at the Big Ten Championships for the second year in a row, Lumsden went to US Open qualifying with genuine confidence – and delivered.

Shinnecock Hills hosts the US Open for the first time in 14 years

With 120 players competing for 14 slots in Columbus, Lumsden finished tied for 10th at six under alongside Australian Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion. He was the only amateur golfer in the field to seal a place at Shinnecock.

“My game has been really improving and I’ve put in a lot of work lately,” Lumsden said.

“I’ve seen some great scores in tournaments, too. I’ve known for a while that I need to keep improving constantly if I want to play golf for a career, and so seeing that manifest in good results is definitely nice.”

Getting exams done early

The amateur’s qualifying effort was all the more impressive after making birdies on two of his last three holes following a double bogey at the 14th.

Lumsden added: “To finish the way I did at both courses was fun. I really knew I needed to birdie 18 to have any chance, and it felt like I just willed the ball into the hole on the last, so to have done that given the situation does feel great.”

He wasn’t finished there, though, because a mad dash to reach the exam hall then followed.

“I got back at 3am the next morning and was sitting a final exam at university that day,” explained the Scot, who is majoring in economics. “The US Open is finals week at the university but I’m getting them done early. It’s certainly keeping me busy.”

One of the toughest weeks in golf now awaits, as Shinnecock, one of America’s classic courses situated 90 miles east of New York City, takes centre stage.

Lumsden has Scots for company in established duo Richie Ramsay and Russell Knox, as well as rookie pro Calum Hill, a former Muckhart junior member now based in New Mexico.

Knox has featured in the past two US Open tournaments

“I’m viewing it as a huge learning opportunity, and also just a chance to go and have a lot of fun,” said Lumsden, who has watched former amateur team-mates Connor Syme, Robert MacIntyre and Liam Johnston make encouraging starts to professional careers.

“These chances are rare at the start of a career so I’m planning on making the most of it. I just want to see how I stack up against these guys, and see what I can learn from the best players out there.”

Yet what of that Scottish Amateur final in Ayrshire last summer?

“Golf is a funny game,” said Lumsden, who earned a place in the quarter-finals at Prestwick by making a first ever hole-in-one at the second extra hole against Craig Ross before losing heavily 9&8 to Stonehaven’s Sam Locke in the 36-hole final.

“I played a good tournament in the Scottish, but just came out into the final completely flat with no game – it happens occasionally in our sport.

“I’ve improved a lot since starting at Northwestern and I’m viewing my remaining time as a constant learning opportunity if I want to play golf for a career.”

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