Monday, May 17, 2004


THREE players have scratched from the Scottish women's amateur championship, hosted by Prestwick Golf Club and starting on Tuesday with the first of two qualifying rounds.
Talented teenagers Gemma Webster (Hilton Park) and Kylie Walker (Buchanan Castle) have withdrawn because of school exams. Jane Finnie (Troon Ladies), beaten finalist in the Ayrshire county championship, has pulled out with a back complaint.
That still leaves 121 competitors to tackle one of the oldest links courses in the world. Prestwick hosted the very first Open championship in 1860 and also the next 12 in row before the Old Course, St Andrews gained the honour for the first time in 1873. Prestwick was still on the Open championship roster until 1925.
The Scottish Ladies Golfing Association powers that be have stretched the Prestwick women's course by some 418yd to 5,967yd and raised the par from 74 to 75. Only two Ladies Golf Union tees, at the 12th and the 17th, are being used.
Anne Laing from Vale of Leven is defending the title she won for a second time in the Centenary championship over the Old Course last year. As the only Scot in the Great Britain & Ireland team of eight for the Curtis Cup match against the United States at Formby from June 12-13, she is the "Aunt Sally" for the rest of the Prestwick field.
Lynn Kenny (Stirling University & Dunblane), winner of the title at Machrihanish in 2000, and Clare Queen (Strathclyde University & Drumpellier) - both members of the Vagliano Trophy-winning GB&I team at Co Louth last summer but surprisingly overlooked by the Curtis Cup selectors - will be motivated more than most of Miss Laing's rivals to end the week as the golfing Queen of Scots.