Open Championship 2015: Alister Balcombe targets first Open silver

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Open 2015: Alister Balcombe relishing Championship debut
144th Open Championship
Venue: St Andrews Dates: 16-19 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, online, Radio 5 live, sports extra, tablets, mobiles and app.

Teenage amateur golfer Alister Balcombe says he can "compete with the best players in the world" ahead of making his Open Championship bow this week.

The 19-year-old's focus is on achieving the Open silver medal, awarded to the highest-ranking amateur golfer.

"I want to play as golf as I can," he told BBC Radio Bristol. "I don't want to be there just to make the cut."

Balcombe finished joint-first in the final qualifier at Royal Cinque Ports in June to secure his spot at the Open.

He shot rounds of 67 and 70 to finish on five under par along with fellow amateur Ben Taylor and former European tour professional Gary Boyd.

The Open debutant started his playing days locally at Clevedon, where he is the youngest-ever club champion, having won the title for the third time a month ago.

But, having just completed his first year of a golf scholarship at Iowa Western Community College in the United States, Balcombe, who has a plus-four handicap, is looking forward to his first Open.

Balcombe's Open Schedule
Alister Balcombe will be in the penultimate group of the day on Thursday afternoon.
He will tee off at 16:02, partnered by Australians Scott Strange and Marcus Fraser.

"It's where I want to be," he said. "It's nice that the hard work is paying off. I want to take it as a sign that I've worked hard to be where I am.

"I don't think it will really sink in until I get up there. I'm still trying to be a normal 19-year-old and stay level headed. But it's hard not to think about it."

When asked about his career intentions, Balcombe added: "There's no rush. I'm pretty certain I'm going to finish out my years in America. I will turn professional, but it's going to be on my terms. I've got plenty of time to take it step-by-step."

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