As sure as night follows day and a huge gallery follows Tiger Woods, the main question for a young winner of the Silver Medal at The Open is ‘when will you turn professional?’
Like hitting a three-iron of a scorched Carnoustie fairway, timing is everything.
For Sam Locke, having former champion Paul Lawrie in his corner will be of great benefit. And mapping out his post-Open future will be the topic of discussion when they meet today.
“With my family and Paul, we’ll all sit down and have a chat,” he said. “Because we need to make the right decision, whatever that may be.
“He’ll obviously have some great advice and put me on the right path.
“I was wanting to make the Walker Cup next year. That was a goal of mine. And this is obviously a slightly different thought in my mind, too. But as I said, we need to sit and have a proper think about this. Right now we just need to enjoy the situation we’re in. It will be a few days before we come to a decision.”
Locke certainly hasn’t wanted for sound advice this week. On Saturday, Open legend Tom Watson sought him out for a 20-minute chat.
“I was told he wanted to come and meet me,” said the 19-year-old. “I couldn’t believe it really. It was nice to know. He’s a massive name in the game. Hopefully, I can just keep working hard and have a similar career to what he’s had.”
The pressure was off Locke from the moment he made the cut and none of the other amateurs in the field could do the same. In these circumstances, yesterday’s seven over par 78 was understandable.
“I earned my spot,” he said. “I played nice golf to get here. But I wanted to do the best I could. I didn’t feel as though I had complete control off the tee this week, but I chipped and putted pretty well, which helped.
“So it was nice to hang in there, make the cut and get the Silver Medal.
“The magnitude of the tournament is obviously new for me and I’ve thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully in the future it stands me in good stead and the things I’ve learned will help me.
“I thought I would enjoy it because I saw it as a chance to show people what I could do, rather than not wanting to do badly.”
Mentor Lawrie is a proud as you would expect him to be.
“I had a few chats with Sam before the week started,” said the 1999 Open champion. “Obviously my job with him was to play the whole thing down. He was going to be excited.
“It was a big week for him but it was also important that he was not here just to enjoy it. He was here to win the Silver Medal. That’s what we emphasised to him.
“To get that before he even played any golf at the weekend was brilliant.
“Even though he is only 19, he is the Scottish Amateur champion. He’s been getting there for a while, so it’s not a huge surprise to the people who know him and have been working with him.
“He is a confident young man inside, and he speaks well. He does the whole thing well.
“The way I deal with these guys is that I tell them the way that I do it and then it’s up to them whether they want to do it that way or not.
“I think he’s very nice young man who works very hard and everybody in the Foundation is just cock-a-hoop. He works in the coffee shop when he’s not here (and will be back there tomorrow). It’s just a fantastic story.
“I was absolutely sure he was capable of winning the Silver Medal. I walked round with him on Monday in a practice round and he hit the ball extremely well. He got a good grasp of what was required early on. He’s played quite a lot of links golf, so it isn’t new to him.
“Not only did he win the Silver Medal, he was the only Scot to make the cut. As an amateur, that’s a phenomenal performance.”
Lawrie added: “I plan a wee sit down on Monday, as I do anyway whether he has a good week or a bad week. So Monday we will find out a bit more about what he is thinking.
“We want to be careful and don’t want to go totally overboard on this. He needs to know that. He has a long way to go, and I don’t want that to sound patronising or to shoot him down.
“But my job now is to have a chat with him, and tell him, ‘right Sam, you’ve won the Silver Medal, you’ve done brilliantly, but this where we are’.”
- Lawrie was speaking as an ambassador for Loch Lomond Whiskies.