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Nairn golfer Sandy Scott set to open up for major challenge

By Will Clark

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Nairn golfer Sandy Scott speaks to Will Clark about how he is preparing to take on the best golfers in the world at the US Open.

Sandy Scott. Picture The R&A
Sandy Scott. Picture The R&A

Sandy Scott has been living the American dream for the last four years. But next week, his golfing career will come to the fore like never before.

Idolising Tiger Woods while first learning the game at Nairn Golf Club as a child, he will be taking on his hero along with 144 of the best golf players in the world at the US Open.

The former Nairn Academy pupil secured his place at one of golf’s four majors by making it to sixth in the top seven of the world amateur golf rankings.

He will be taking on former champions Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and defending champion Gary Woodland at the Winged Foot Golf Club at Mamaroneck, New York, starting on Thursday.

Taking on the biggest names in golf doesn’t phase the 21-year-old.

While it will be his biggest challenge, he says he will be going into the tournament with a winning mentality.

“I am going there with a mindset that I want to compete,” he said.

“Its great that I am in the US Open now, but the goal is I want to be competitive.

“I am going there trying to win the tournament just as any other player should be.

“I will prepare as best as I can do.”

Sandy Scott in action in the United States.
Sandy Scott in action in the United States.

Scott first got into golf as a child, encouraged by his dad Alex who was the assistant professional at Nairn Golf Club.

He inspired him to take up the sport and during his junior playing days he was seen as a talented youngster who had what it took to go far in the game.

After finishing school, he went over to the United States to study at Texas Tech University and represent them on the American amateur golf circuit.

Over the last four years, he said deciding to cross the Atlantic has turned him into the player he is now.

“Amateur golf in America is really strong,” he said.

“I have played four years of college golf and it was a shock to me to see how competitive it really was.

“It took me a few years to get a grasp of it and the high level of competitiveness, but ultimately it has made me a better player.

“When you travel to a different continent to play, it is a different level of preparation.

“All of a sudden you are travelling tonnes of miles to play events you are not used to.

“Whether that’s in temperature or environment, it adds more pressure.

“Players are good all sides of the globe and you do find yourself out of your comfort zone. So it is about acclimatising to be successful.”

Sandy Scott was ranked sixth in the world rankings.
Sandy Scott was ranked sixth in the world rankings.

Scott has been named a two-time All-American for Texas Tech. He has also competed for Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup and also competed at the Arnold Palmer Cup last year.

He was preparing to turn professional in 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced him to put that on hold and remain in the amateur ranks for the time being.

“I was planning going professional this year, but I have decided to press pause on that and weigh things up,” said Scott.

“I will stay amateur for the time being and wait for the opportunity to get better.

“Next year fingers are crossed to turn professional.”

While Covid-19 put golf on hold earlier this year, Scott used that time to travel home and practice at the course where he first learned the game.

“I was back home for four months, I came back in the middle of March and stayed until July and it was great to be home,” he said.

“I stayed in Nairn pretty much the whole time, played some golf and even played a medal competition at Nairn. It was good to see everybody again. I treated it like downtime, it was good to have a break, but it is good to be going again.”

Since qualifying for the US Open last month, Scott has been practising at Lubbock, Texas, preparing for the tournament and is ready to prove what he can do with the eyes of the golfing world watching.

“I will try and figure out what kind of strategy and game plan I’ll need. Typically, in the lead up to a tournament, I start doing technical work and then performance-based stuff as

we get closer to trying to emulate the kind of performance needed for the tournament. I will do five to six hour days and then go harder and transition to ensure I’m fully fit for the tournament.

“I’ll head out there four to five days early and get a feel for the course. I want to prepare as best I can. I have heard of the course but never played it. I have never played up the east coast of America. It will be fairly new to me climate-wise but it will be cool to go up to New York as there are some great courses up there.

“But I will just do my research and do the best I can.”

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