Ashley Chesters still putting professional future on hold

Shropshire amateur Ashley Chesters at The Open, Day One, Royal Liverpool
Chesters comes from the club that also produced two-time major winner Sandy Lyle

Shropshire amateur Ashley Chesters is likely to put his expected move into the professional ranks on hold after qualifying for The Open again.

Chesters starred at this year's Open at Hoylake with a two-under first round 70 before missing the cut by just a shot.

But he has already booked a place at St Andrews in 2015 by successfully defending his European Amateur title.

"I was going to turn professional until I won the European," Chesters, 24, from Hawkstone Park, told BBC Shropshire.

"That gives me a place in the field for The Open again and it's at St Andrews next year."

Ashley Chesters' rare achievements
Only two amateur golfers have achieved the feat of playing in successive Open Championships over the past 20 years - Tiger Woods (1995 and 1996, when he won the silver medal) and Edoardo Molinari (2005 and 2006).Chesters plays his golf at Hawkstone Park in North Shropshire, where his dad Nigel and his mum Gina are currently mens and ladies captain respectively, and where former Open champion Sandy Lyle also began his career.

The lure of playing the Old Course, added to the prospect of making the Great Britain team for the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham in September next year, looks like restricting Chesters to the amateur ranks for at least another 12 months.

"There's now a good chance that I will stay amateur, although I have not made a final decision yet," he added.

"Playing this year at Hoylake was one of the best experiences of my life. And to play an Open at St Andrews on the Old Course, my favourite place to play golf, would just be so special. I'm not sure I can pass up that chance.

"I'd planned to go to Tour School but as an amateur, still leaving my options open. But what would be the point in going at all if I was staying amateur to play at the Open again?"

If he was to turn professional, that would automatically mean the loss of both prestigious invitations, as the Walker Cup is an amateur event only - and the place at The Open, as European amateur champion, only holds good if the winner remains amateur.

Chesters, coached by former European Tour player Michael Welch, also from Hawkstone Park, made his Open debut in July thanks to his efforts 11 months earlier in winning the European Amateur Championship in Spain at El Prat the previous August.

Having missed the halfway cut by just a stroke, he also narrowly missed out on winning the coveted silver medal - for the top amateur at The Open, over all 72 holes.

But, as far as next year's Open is concerned, Chesters looks set to return to St Andrews, where this year's European Amateur Championship was held earlier this month, over the parkland Duke's Course, just two miles away from the home of golf on a hill on the south side of the town.

And Chesters' three-shot victory (the only man under par over the Duke's Course) has thrown up the prize of playing on the famous course that gave the town its golfing name - and a second chance at that silver medal, previously won by a only a handful of big names which include both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

"It's hard to believe I've done it for a second time," he said. "I just played pretty well all week. And now I've really got some thinking to do."

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