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Removal man moving in right direction with opening 68

Unless you're involved in the removals industry, you should never take suites from strangers.

Scott Borrowman has opted to work part-time in bid to improve his golf
Scott Borrowman has opted to work part-time in bid to improve his golf

You probably shouldn't tell appalling gags like that either.

Scott Borrowman has been heaving and hoisting a variety of settees and chairs around for the best part of three years but now has opted out of the shuffling, huffing and puffing of manual labour in the hope of giving his main passion of golf a major lift. Yesterday, at a largely damp Duke's course on the outskirts of St Andrews, the 27-year-old from Dollar hauled himself up among the early leaders with a three-under-par 68 during the opening round of the European Amateur Championship.

Four weeks ago, Borrowman, the Scottish amateur No.1 in 2012 and a past winner of the Scottish Youths' title, decided to sacrifice a full-time wage in favour of full-time competition. His tidy round yesterday, which was illuminated by a purposeful burst of four birdies in a row from the seventh, provided proof that this former removal man is moving in the right direction again.

"It had been a poor year," said Borrowman. "I was working 45 hours a week and often felt exhausted. I would go and practise for three hours or so each night, but you just felt you were going through the motions. All the top guys on the amateur scene are working hard on their games and I have to try and keep up with them."

The man Borrowman was trying to keep up with was Waterford's Gary Hurley, who pieced together a 66 to set the early standard as he enjoyed another profitable day in this neck of the golfing woods. A year ago, the Irishman won the coveted R&A's Bursars Tournament just down the hill at the Old Course.

"I seem to enjoy St Andrews," said the 21-year-old, who played in all four rounds of June's Irish Open on the European Tour. Victory this week would gain him a place in the 2015 Open Championship. And that is back here in the Auld Grey Toon.

Given that he lives just 15 minutes from Stonehenge, Ben Stow is used to seeing prehistoric monuments, so being invited into a press room containing the kind of battered, clapped out laptops that would make craggy monoliths look cutting edge barely raised an eyebrow. His opening 67 was certainly eye-catching as he finished alongside Finland's Lauri Ruuska. The big-hitting Englishman, who won this season's Brabazon Trophy, thunders the ball 300 yards through the air and is relishing the long, 7224-yard challenge posed by this largely parkland Duke's course.

"I used to be long and wild, now I'm long and straight and this is perfect for me," said Stow, who played in last year's Open at Muirfield. "I get fed up with links golf, to be honest, and if you are turning pro it's on courses like this [parkland] where you will make your money. I really value the creative aspect of the links game, but I believe Britain as a whole would produce more players if we played less links golf on the amateur circuit."

Ashley Chesters, the reigning European champion, began his defence with a 69 which included a raking birdie putt of 40 feet from the back of the ninth green. Chris Robb, the new Scottish champion, had to settle for a 75, but spare a thought for Denmark's Thomas Sorensen, who started 3, 10, 3, 9 en route to an outward 51 and a torrid 25-over 96. It seems the Duke's had plenty of hazards.

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