Stewart finishes as leading Scot on his Open debut
AYRSHIRE golfer Michael Stewart intends to put his prize money towards his wedding after finishing as the leading Scottish player on his debut at the Open.
The Irvine professional, who cut his teeth at Troon Welbeck, only earned his place at ‘golf’s original championship’ following the final qualifying round at Dundonald Links in his home town on July 4.
And after opening up at Royal Liverpool with an impressive three-under-par round of 68 in his very first major tournament, putting him just two shots off the lead, the 33-year-old briefly found himself in the top 10 during Friday’s second round.
That wasn’t to last too long, but his second-round score of 73 still saw him comfortably make the cut for the weekend and a 71 on Saturday left him one under for the championship going into the final round.
Sadly, that was to be as good as it got for the Scot, who missed out on the top 10 finish that would have earned him an automatic berth at next year’s tournament at Royal Troon after a final-day 76 which saw him finish in a tie for 52nd place alongside New Zealander Ryan Fox and Corey Conners of Canada.
Just making the cut at Hoylake was enough to ensure that Stewart, who plays his regular golf on the European Challenge Tour, would take home at least £29,000 from his week on the Wirral, with his weekend exploits taking that up to £33,762.
Although he stresses he is not short ahead of his wedding, as his fiancee runs her own business, the cash will be put to good use.
“I’ve got a wedding in March next year, so that helps pay for that,” said Stewart after his second round on Friday.
“We’re getting married and then we’ll buy a house.
“She’s got her own business and she does great, but it just takes a lot of bad pressure off me.”
Stewart feels fortunate to have preserved his professional status having been forced to look for alternative work during the pandemic.
While the action was paused, he took a job in a hand sanitiser factory, drove a forklift and a delivery truck, and handled sales calls.
A number of his contemporaries have since fallen out of the game.
He said: “It’s not like a ‘poor me’ story – it’s just that’s what people have to do.
“There are so many guys that have been in the same position as me that have just left and they’ve not come back.
“I was fortunate enough to work and the people I was working for were great enough to let me go and play golf on the Tartan Pro Tour and I was eligible to play Qschool and I got my card back and stuff.
“That kind of gave me some kind of security, financial security.”
Stewart’s four-over-par score for the tournament of 288 was four better than the next best placed Scot, Richie Ramsay, with Robert ‘Lefty’ MacIntyre completing the ‘tartan podium’ with a 10-over-par total of 298.