Keir McNicoll holes 40 foot putt on last hole of The Open (kind of)

© GettyKeir McNicoll.
Keir McNicoll.

Many a golfer will have dreamed about holing a 40-foot putt on the 18th on an Open Sunday.

Keir McNicoll can now say that he has done it. Well, kind of.

With an odd number of players making the cut, for the second day running McNicoll went out in the first group as a marker, this time for American Beau Hossler.

He was first of the day into the hole at the last and arguably nobody who followed him did it more dramatically.

Through the back after his approach shot toppled over a mound, McNicoll rolled his putt from off the green straight into the middle of the cup.

The birdie three won’t go down in the history books but it certainly won’t be forgotten by the 34-year-old senior assistant pro at Carnoustie.

“I’ve hit that putt a few times,” he said. “It was probably about 40 feet. I’d hit a good shot in but it just sneaked over the back. After seeing the crowds walking down the fairway it was nice to hole it.

“Yesterday the first tee was incredible – a mix of adrenaline, nerves and emotion. I felt more in control today as the round went on.

“If I never get to play in an Open this was definitely the next best thing. I caddied in 2005 for Eric Ramsay, when he came within a shot of sharing the Silver Medal, and this beats that by a wee bit.

“There was a big support yesterday and again today when people were coming out for the last few holes with a sore head!

“In the last few weeks I haven’t felt that comfortable with my game but you can’t give up an opportunity like that.”

As an amateur McNicoll was the first Scottish golfer to reach a plus six handicap but it didn’t work out for him as he would have hoped as a tour pro.

And he isn’t tempted to give it another shot.

“I’m concentrating on coaching and looking after the juniors at Carnoustie,” said McNicoll, who won the St Andrews Links Trophy 10 years ago.

“My goal is to give them the opportunity I had as a kid.

“I don’t play anywhere near as much golf as when I was an amateur or a full-time pro. It’s about using the time wisely to practice but it’s nowhere near enough to compete at this level.”

One door that he hasn’t closed, though, is playing in an Open for real.

“At least half a dozen times I’ve tried to qualify,” he said. “I’ve got to final stage a couple of times. I got there last year at Glasgow Gailes. As long as (regional) qualifying is at Panmure, I’ll give it a try.

After finishing his round it was back to the day job for McNicoll.

“In a normal week we’re catering for the visitors and season ticket holders at Carnoustie,” he said.

“This week the whole building is closed off to everyone apart from players and their families so we’ve just been trying to look after them as best we can. I didn’t think we’d sell many balls or gloves!”

Not since McNicoll was on the bag of his Carnoustie pal, Ramsay, has a Scot won the Silver Medal. It was Lloyd Saltman in ’05 and this year 19-year-old Sam Locke won the prize for leading amateur.

“I don’t know Sam but he’s a very good player,” said McNicoll. “And obviously he has a good camp behind, with Paul Lawrie involved. He needs to be patient and do what’s right for him. There’s no rush for him to turn professional.”

Keir’s sister Katy, an assistant pro at Gullane, was caddying for him over the weekend.

“She’s enjoyed her week and she’ll caddy for Kelsey MacDonald at the Scottish Open next week,” he said. “This has been a bit of practice.”

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