St Andrews professional Scott Herald savoured the thrill of ‘playing’ the Open on his home course on Saturday, weeks after thinking he had missed the chance.
The 35-year-old golf instructor had hoped to earn a place in the field by right but failed to get through to final qualifying last month.
With the driving range where he works now out of action due to the town’s hosting of the Open, that left him with little more than walking the dog on his to-do list for this weekend.
That all changed on Friday evening after an odd number of players made the cut for the final two rounds.
Tournament organisers called and invited him to lead out of the field on Saturday, playing as a non-competitive ‘marker’ alongside Lichfield’s Richard Mansell in the first group of the day.
Herald said: “It feels surreal to go from trying to qualify and that being the main focus, then to having the relaxation of the week, then the high of knowing I was going to play, then the real nerves of, ‘I am going to play today’.
“It was a bit of a baptism of fire but unbelievable at the same time. I was a little bit nervy to begin with. I have stood on that first tee I don’t know how many times now but this was just different, special, goosebumps really.”
Herald originally hails from Glasgow but has been working at the St Andrews Links Academy since 2015.
He is now the senior instructor and is well settled in the town with his wife Mairi also working the same company. She was actually expected to be busier this week as she is involved with the Open retail operation.
“This is a massive week for her,” said Herald, who could be back in action on Sunday. “Usually for me it’s just a stay-at-home week and do what you do with the dog, but all of a sudden it’s pretty special this weekend.”
Herald had a close-up view as Mansell, someone who did safely negotiate qualifying, scored well early on.
The 27-year-old recorded a four-under-par 68 that included an eagle on the ninth and he also was just pleased to be involved.
Mansell, four under for the tournament, said: “You just want to be here. That’s why knocking in the putt on 17 meant so much yesterday.
“I’ve never reacted like that when I’ve made a cut before. You just want to play two more rounds in the 150th Open at St Andrews. That’s what you dream of as a kid.”