Sunday, May 18, 2003


What a pity that Curtis Cup player Vikki Laing, up to a highest-ever 10th place in the American women's college rankings, does not fly back to Scotland from California until May 30, 11 days too late to play in the Centenary Scottish women's amateur championship which begins on Monday over the Old Course, St Andrews, the birthplace of the event in 1903.
Does that mean that the ultimate winner of Friday's 18-hole final will have a "second-best" tag? Not a bit of it. Vikki apart, this has to be the strongest, in-depth field in the championship for many years. No one can remember when last 68 players had their entry fees returned because the maximum number of 132 was reached weeks before the deadline.
In days of yore, players with handicaps as high as 18 were able to play in what was as much a week of socialising as golfing. Not this week. Only players with handicaps of 8.1 or better will tee it up in the two qualifiying rounds to reduce the field to 32 who will contest the match-play stages from Wednesday to Friday.
There are five players with handicaps of scratch or better: Anne Laing (Vale of Leven) and Lynn Kenny (Stirling University), both former championship playing off plus two, another past winner in Alison Davidson (Stirling) and previous beaten finalist Lesley Mackay (Stirling) University), both plus one, and Sheena Wood (Aberdeen Ladies), who has a scratch rating.
But for Strathclyde University's inability to arrange an examination in the university town of St Andrews - a feat that has not been beyond the golf-minded Stirling University powers-that-be, plus-two player Clare Queen (Drumpellier) would have been in the field as one of the favourites to add to the British girls' stroke and match-play championships she won two years ago.
"It shows how flexible Stirling University are. They are allowing me to sit an exam in St Andrews after I play in Monday's first round," said 2000 Scottish champion Lynn Kenny from Dunblane.
"Stirling University understand that this is a very important event and in the past they have even sent an invigilator by plane to Machrihanish so that Cara Gruber and I could sit an exam there! It was to their benefit as I then won the championship."
In the absence of Miss Queen and last year's winner at Stranraer, Curtis Cup player Heather Stirling and the 1999 title-winner at Carnoustie, Linzie Morton, like Heather now campaigning as a rookie pro on the US Futures Tour, Lynn Kenny has to be title favourite but not at short odds.