Panmure professional Andrew Crerar is into his fourth major golf championship in this week’s Senior Open at Sunningdale – and this time he’s determined to get on the right side of the cut.
The Dundee born and based player who has been head pro at the Barry club since 2008 came through final qualifying on Monday at Burhill in Surrey for the Senior Open. It’s being staged just across the Berkshire border at the historic and much-loved heathland club.
It’ll be Andy’s fourth major, having come through the old local qualifying system to play in the Open Championships of 1995 and 1997, when he was one of the most consistent players on the Scottish domestic circuit, spending a season on the European Tour in 1998.
‘The hope is to play all four rounds’
The 52-year-old has focused on head pro duties since then, but qualified to play in the Senior Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes two years ago, and then again on Monday.
“I missed the cut by two at Lytham, and by one in both my Open appearances,” he recalled. “Obviously the hope is to play all four rounds this week.
“In truth I’m just happy to be playing, because I don’t get the chance to play competitively that much these days. I think I’ve only played three times this season so far.
“It means I’ve been pretty inconsistent. I was tied 15th at the Northern Open at Portlethen earlier this season which was a pretty good result, but it’s been up and down.
“This week is a good example. I played very well at Burhill and was one of three guys to shoot par or better to qualify. But my practice round yesterday at Sunningdale was pretty poor.”
Best inland course in Britain and Europe
In 33 years as a pro Andy had never played the great Sunningdale Old Course – widely regarded as the best inland course in all of Britain and Europe.
“You can see what they mean, it’s a magnificent course and pretty tough,” he said. “I played a practice round with Euan McIntosh and Scott Henderson which was great.
“The three of us have come up together through boys’ amateur golf, assistant pro golf and Tartan Tour and now we’re all in the Seniors.”
Andy was the PGA in Scotland’s Order of Merit winner in 1997, in the days when it was a circuit of eight or more full-field 72-hole events.
“Those were great days with so many opportunities to play,” he said. “There’s still the PGA Scotland events I play when I can. I also competed in a couple of Paul Lawrie’s Tartan Pro Tour events last year.
“I still remember everything about my two times playing in the Open, at St Andrews in 1995, and at Royal Troon in 1997. I’m just hoping that I can play solidly this week.”
Players happy to compete after missing out in 2020
The field is in a bio-bubble for this week at Sunningdale because of covid concerns. There is an American presence although not to the extent there might be under normal circumstances.
Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie said that the players were just “thrilled to be here” after the championship was cancelled last year.
Monty, who now lives in Sunningdale, said he was getting rave reviews from his peers on the Champions Tour.
“I spoke to Tim Petrovic, Jerry Kelly and some other Americans and they compare it to Pine Valley,” he said. “That’s been named the best course in the world for 20 or more years. It’s some compliment to make that comparison.”
‘I suppose I picked some beauties’
Monty pointed out he has never won an R&A event, and there’s a huge incentive in this one.
“I was second to Tiger in the 2005 Open and runner-up to Olazabal in the Amateur,” he said ruefully. “I suppose I picked some beauties!
“Obviously, we all know that if you win you get an invite to St Andrews next year. That will be a real celebration of golf, being the 150th Open.”
And a win would rank alongside many of his great achievements as a player, he added.
“It would be right up there,” he said. “My biggest achievement was winning three times in a row down the road at Wentworth, I’ll always say that.
“But to win here at 58 against a lot of good 50 year olds would be right up there. There’s a reduced field, but there’s Els, Langer and Jimenez and all the Americans who have come over. It’s going to be very tough.
“It’s a home tie for me these days so I’m going to really enjoy it.”