Scotland the brave

Yesterday, we featured an interview with Tom Watson, the oldest man in the field for this week’s Open Championship at St Andrews. Today, we turn our attention to a golfer who became the youngest ever player to qualify to play in golf’s oldest and most prestigious event.

Zane Scotland first came to prominence in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, aged just 16. After a stellar amateur career he turned professional in 2003 but soon afterwards all this early promise looked like coming to nothing when he sustained a mysterious back injury in a minor car crash.

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By the end of 2004, things were so bad the one-time prodigy was unable to swing a golf club for three months. “I couldn't even watch golf,” recalls Zane. ”I put my golf clubs in the garage and took my golf pictures down. In my mind I was thinking ‘I'm going to have to find another career. I thought I would never play golf again’.”

Years in the wilderness followed and as his confidence drained away, it looked like Zane Scotland might be written off as just another young pretender who didn't realise his potential.

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Now aged 27, and after intensive treatment on his back, Zane has qualified for the Open again. And while he might no longer have the distinction of being the youngest ever to play in the event (Matteo Manassero, the Italian teenage phenomenon, eclipsed Zane’s record last year), or have a realistic chance of winning, we're delighted to see one of the sport's nice guys getting the chance to tee it up in his second Open. We wish him well this week.