Amateurs Gregory and Mazzoli vying for the Silver Medal in The 145th Open
England's Scott Gregory will be in impressive company when he arrives on Royal Troon's first tee for his maiden appearance in The Open.
Gregory’s goal will be to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy by winning the Silver Medal awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds of the Championship. His efforts in that area will be helped by the fact he is one of just two amateurs in this week’s field.
That differs starkly from last year when nine amateurs started at St Andrews, with Jordan Niebrugge, Ashley Chesters, Oliver Schniederjans, Paul Dunne and Romain Langasque all making the cut.
The Englishman’s competition comes from Italy’s Steffano Mazzoli who owes his place in the field to winning last year’s European Amateur Championship and who like Gregory arrives in Scotland from France where he was representing his country in the European Amateur Team Championship
“I’m really excited because The Open will be a great experience for me,” said the 19-year-old from Montorfano. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Gregory begins his first round alongside Duval and Lyle at 7.08am but Mazzoli will have to wait a bit longer for his debut because he has been allocated a 12.09pm tee time alongside two other players who were crowned Champion Golfer of the Year in the shape of Ben Curtis and John Daly.
Both will be buoyed by some comments made by Ireland’s Paul Dunne, who as an amateur led last year’s Championship at St Andrews after 54-holes, before relinquishing the Silver Medal to America’s Niebrugge who closed with a two under par 70 to share sixth place with Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Danny Willett.
Based partially on what happened last year Dunne believes the amateurs have nothing to fear playing on a predominantly professional stage.
If you are winning big amateur events regularly, you are ready to turn professional straight away, said Dunne. “There was really no difference when I turned pro, it just meant more travel.”