Peebles golfer Craig Howie overcame the distraction of Army shooting practice to lead the way at Carnoustie during the final qualifying round for the 120th Amateur Championship.
Round after round was fired by five squads of soldiers, prompting one local to claim the situation was a “disgrace for a championship of this stature” as he popped his head into the media centre.
“We were made aware of the championship taking place at Carnoustie this week,” added the Army spokeswoman, “but it was impossible to change the schedules for what is a very busy and important period of training activity for both regular Army and for reservists.”
In fairness, the golfers went about their own shooting without making a fuss over a distraction that, needless to say, is not a problem for their professional counterparts when the Open Championship is held at the Angus venue.
“They were fairly at it – I thought there was a war going on,” said Howie, half-joking, after he had overcome the racket to card a five-under-par 67 as he finished top of the qualifying pile alongside Kiwi Ryan Chisnall on seven-under-par.
Having dropped off the radar after winning the 2012 Scottish Boys Championship at Murcar Links, Howie is enjoying a welcome resurgence, coming into this event on the back of a third-place finish in the St Andrews Links Trophy.
“I struggled with my game for a bit,” he admitted, though not in a round that was illuminated by an eagle – he pitched in from 30 yards at the 11th – and five birdies.
“Mentally, I didn’t think I was good enough to compete at this level. But I started working with a new coach, Stewart Savage, in October and that, coupled with paying more attention to certain stats through the GolfData Lab has helped me get through my rough patch.”