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Another Strathallan Old Boy in bid for Europe. Guy takes step in pursuit of Monty

Dalmahoy

WILLIAM Guy went to the same public school, Strathallan, as Colin Montgomerie but since they left that seat of learning their golfing fortunes could not have followed more divergent paths -- Guy struggling to make his way in the game, Montgomerie, three times a millionaire on European tournament earnings alone.

Yesterday, in the first round of the Tartan Special Scottish Professional championship at Dalmahoy, Guy's 69 left him tied with Andrew Oldcorn only a stroke behind the leader, Russell Weir, and raised his hopes of cutting a reasonable slice of the #65,000 prize fund.

Until this week from five other outings, the 27-year-old Buchanan Castle professional had won only #1800 -- and that for finishing sixth in the Kenya Open.

Guy was even deprived of #5 of that recently in Las Palmas, where he was threatened and robbed by a knife-wielding mugger who also struck him in the left eye. Guy feared his sight might have been permanently impaired but a subsequent examination found, to his relief, that no serious damage had been inflicted.

''I'm trying to qualify for the main Tour through the Challenge Tour, after missing out for my card in a play-off in last autumn's school, and that costs about #1000 a week,'' Guy explained, although he does have financial support from a Southport businessman he met while playing in a pro-am.

Guy completed a good morning's work with a birdie at the 480-yard ninth, the sixth of his round, although he had to hole a second putt of six feet after he had reached the green with a No.3 wood shot into the hailstorm which had cost him bogeys at the two previous holes.

Weir has won everything on the Tartan Tour worth winning except this championship, the flagship event, but the 43-year-old Dunoon professional made a possible move towards improving on two runner-up finishes with his 68, four under par. Weir, playing the outward half last in a testing westerly wind which blew the occasional rain squall over the 6677-yard West course, finished with two of five birdies. First, he chipped in from 15 yards after his approach had spun off the eighth green and then having hit a No.2 iron to 10 feet left the eagle putt hovering on the hole's rim.

Whereupon Weir, feeling his legs tired and anxious to put his feet up, immediately left to catch a ferry home. ''I'm overweight and old,'' he reflected wryly over his car phone. ''It's not for want of trying I haven't won this title -- indeed, perhaps I've tried too hard and so put too much pressure on myself.''

Oldcorn, a very late starter, had the worst of the weather, but wetter and even colder than before in a wind from the most difficult direction. The course may not be as unforgiving as St Mellion, where Oldcorn on Sunday finished equal fourth, but the conditions were more unpleasant and he was satisfied with this start.

Rather as Adam Hunter had summed up his 72 so Oldcorn did his score: ''It was a better working round than a ball-striking one.'' Ultimately the glue that held his score together was formed by the four substantial single putts he made in five holes from the thirteenth, two each for pars at birdies.

The ninth proved even more valuable for the holder, Andrew Coltart. He was ''playing along very averagely'' when from a downhill lie he struck a No.4 iron shot of 199 yards to within 25 feet for an eagle 3 and a 70, so that he played the three par-5s -- the adjoining first and tenth both uphill but down wind -- in four under.

Among the others on 70 was Alan Tait who played alongside Coltart. He complained of inconsistent putting from genuine holing-out range, but Tait, aged 26, who has set three course records -- Carnoustie (64), The Queen's at Gleneagles Hotel (63), and Buchanan Castle (62) -- had single putts for four of his five gains.

68 -- R Weir (Cowal).

69 -- W Guy (Buchanan Castle), A Oldcorn (Dalmahoy Hotel).

70 -- A Coltart (Thornhill), A Tait (Cawder), K Campbell (Machrihanish), D McKay (Ladybank), D Thomson (Kings Links), B Marchbank (Marchbank Golf Enterprises).

71 -- L Vannet (Carnoustie), A Crerar (Downfield), S Harrier (Craigie Hill), I Collins (Stirling) S MacPherson (Felixstowe Ferry), S Syme (Glenrothes), I Young (Braid Hills), J Greaves (Glasgow), S Martin (North Engineering), C Innes (Golfanlage Schloss), S Stephen (Braid Hills), D Drysdale (Dunbar).

72 -- P Wardell (Longniddry), A Hunter (Strathclyde Park), T Coles (King James VI), S Callan (Dalmahoy), B Davidson (Kings Links), R Aitken (Barassie), G Redford (Turnberry Hotel), A Hogg (Golf Club Chieming), S Henderson (Kings Links), R Arnott (Caddy Shack), G Harvey (Grangemouth).

73 -- J McCreadie (Buchanan Castle), F Mann (Musselburgh), C Gillies (Falkirk), K Stables (Montrose), B Lockie (Barassie), I Bratton (Cruden Bay), S Craig (Dunfermline), S Kerr (Renfrew), G Jack (Kirriemuir), G Laing (North Wilts), J Henderson (Royal Musselburgh), C Elliott (Dubai Creek), C Everett (Caldwell), K Fairbairn (Goswick).

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