Open 2015: Ben Taylor vows to return after St Andrews letdown

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at the Old Course, St Andrews
Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor is expected to turn pro after the GB & Ireland Walker Cup match against the USA in September
144th Open Championship
Venue: St Andrews Dates: 16-19 July
Sunday's coverage: Live on Red Button, Connected TVs, online, tablets, mobiles and apps from 10:00 BST and live on BBC TV and Radio 5 live from 11:00

In years gone by, to find yourself sandwiched between names like Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and Mark Calcavecchia on an Open Championship leaderboard would have been cause for great pride.

While English amateur golfer Ben Taylor is on the brink of a professional career, those three former Open champions are reaching the end.

Taylor's 11-over, two round score of 155 at St Andrews meant he missed the cut by some margin, but the 23-year-old from Surrey remained upbeat.

"No matter what you shoot you can't be negative," he told BBC Sport.

"It's my first Open and I'm disappointed. I had high expectations this week and it's not very easy to take."

Ben Taylor's route to his first Open Championship
Epsom-born amateur Taylor, from Walton Heath, went to Millfield School, completing his education in the States, first at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, then at Louisiana State University.
Came through Final Qualifying in joint first place at Royal Cinque Ports last month, tying with fellow English amateur Alister Balcombe and former European Tour pro Gary Boyd.

Taylor's closing one-over 73 lifted him from last place to joint second-last with 55-year-old Calcavecchia, one shot behind three-time open winner Faldo and just above 65-year-old Watson.

"My 82 on the first day was pathetic," Taylor added. "I played well, but I had a lot of pot bunker problems on the back nine which took me out of the tournament.

"I played far better on the second day, but I had a ton of support here this week - friends, family, even fans who'd flown over from LSU (Louisiana State University). I saw a lot of purple and gold in the crowd.

"There's a feeling of letting people down when you've played so poorly."

What did Taylor learn from his Open experience?

"The best thing about teeing it up here is making me realise that I can compete with these guys," he said.

"I know I'm hitting it as well as them. They just know how to score better. I've got to keep plugging away and keep believing. Eventually I'll be here competing in future tournaments.

"I just had to forget about the scores I was shooting, learn from it, keep playing and carry on in the direction I'm heading in.

"I've played for the last two days with two experienced pros, Tom Gillis and Brett Rumford, who were great with me.

"Last Sunday night, Tom was in a play-off back over in the States with Jordan Spieth and won $507,000 for coming second. I dream of a future like that. That's the future I want.

"He played mini tours for seven years and just kept at it before he succeeded. He said I've got the game. And for someone like that to be so supportive was inspirational."

The next English Roses

Ashley Chesters interviewed with Nick Faldo in the background
Ashley Chesters is one of the amateur players sharing greens with veterans such as Nick Faldo at St Andrews in 2015

Four young English amateurs, Ashley Chesters, Paul Kinnear, Ben Taylor and Alister Balcombe have performed in the Open at St Andrews this week. And all four have worn shirts - some red, some white and some blue, bearing the English rose, the logo of England Golf - the country's leading amateur body.

Taylor, Kinnear and Chesters are all putting expected moves into the professional ranks on hold until the biennial GB & Ireland Walker Cup match against the USA at Royal Lytham & St Annes on 12-13 September.

"It's just an expectation from England golf to wear their uniform," Taylor said. "It proves the strength of the amateur game here. We've had three England internationals playing, in me, Paul Kinnear and Ashley Chesters and, although Alister Balcombe hasn't yet, I'm sure getting in The Open will put him straight in the Walker Cup team.

"We wear the rose proudly to show thanks for the time and effort that has been put into us."

"All I can do now is concentrate on Walker Cup training next week," Taylor added. "Then it's the English amateur and European amateur and then I plan to go to Q School in America, which goes from September to December, hopefully by then as a professional."