Jamieson provides glimmer of hope for Scottish golf

Scott Jamieson plays his second shot into the 18th green on the first extra hole en route to winning The Nelson Mandela Championship.

Scott Jamieson plays his second shot into the 18th green on the first extra hole en route to winning The Nelson Mandela Championship.

Everyone concerned about the state of Scottish golf will be hoping Scott Jamieson’s victory in the Nelson Mandela Championship heralds the start of a Scottish revival.

We shouldn’t hold our breath.

Jamieson became the first Scottish golfer to win the opening event of a European Tour season since Stephen McAllister won the 1990 Vino Verde Atlantic Open.

It might be the weirdest win Jamieson ever achieves.

With heavy rain in Durban bringing chaos to the opening event of the 2013 European Tour season, organizers were forced to reduce the tournament to 36 holes and shorten the Royal Durban Golf Club layout to a par 65.

The 29-year-old former Augusta State player began the final round six shots off the lead, but eight birdies and no bogeys gave Jamieson a closing 57 – yes, 57 – and helped him to a share of the lead along with England’s Steve Webster and Eduardo De La Riva of Spain in the rain-shortened event.

Jamieson then took the title with back-to-back pars on the first two extra holes. De La Riva dropped out after the first hole with a bogey before Webster found trouble on the second extra hole to give the Scot his first European Tour victory.

“To get your name on any European trophy is a fantastic achievement,” said Jamieson, “but it’s a little more special when it’s for someone like Nelson (Mandela, the former South African president).

“At the start of the day, I probably didn’t think I would be standing here holding the trophy, but I knew I needed a fast start and I was lucky enough to get that.

“It's amazing. I've got to give a special mention to my wife Natalie, my family, Nike golf, everyone at my home club of Cathkin Braes in Scotland and all the other people who has ever helped me get to his point. I couldn't have done it without them."

Jamieson earns a European Tour exemption until the end of the 2014 season along with the €158,500 first-place check.

He becomes the 22nd Scottish golfer to win on the European Tour. Those 22 players have racked up 131 wins since the European Tour began in the 1970s. Colin Montgomerie has 31 of those wins, while Sandy Lyle accounts for 18.

Despite Jamieson’s win, it’s hard right now to see where the next 131 victories are going to come from.

It’s perhaps a sad reflection on the current state of Scottish golf that Paul Lawrie is Scotland’s top-ranked player. Enjoying a renaissance at the age of 43, Lawrie is No. 29 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Richie Ramsay is 53rd, Martin Laird occupies 63rd spot while Stephen Gallacher is 92nd. Jamieson is 167th.

Four players in the world's top 100 might be good enough for some nations, but not for the country that invented the game. Especially when so much money is invested in amateur golf in Scotland.

Jamieson’s victory helps the Scottish cause. It adds to the two notched up by Ramsay and Marc Warren in recent years to go with wins from the old guard of Lawrie and Gallacher. Where future wins are going to come from is a moot point.

Scotland has no players in the top 100 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking compared with England’s 12. Jack McDonald is the highest-ranked Scot, at World No. 105.

Scotland finished 44th in this year’s World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey. The Scots didn’t even make the A flight, finishing lower than nations such as Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

With young Scots such as James Byrne, Michael Stewart and David Law still trying to find their feet in the pro game, Jamieson and the likes of Ramsay and Warren have a heavy load to bear in the coming years.

Let’s hope Jamieson and Co. have strong shoulders.

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