The Open: Ben Stow says tournament can be 'life-changing'

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Amateur Stow relishing Open place

Amateur golfer Ben Stow says if he can impress at the Open at Muirfield it could be a "life-changing" experience.

The 22-year-old secured a place at the tournament for the first time by winning the local final qualifying competition at Gullane.

Stow will tee off alongside Sweden's Robert Karlsson and 2004 champion Todd Hamilton in Thursday's first round.

"If I play great then these four days could change my life," Wiltshire's Stow told BBC South Today.

"I'm not going to get ahead of myself but certainly my life as I know it could change very rapidly.

"I could turn professional and play for a living rather than for fun, which is what you do as an amateur."

Stow is based at Rushmore, near Salisbury, and started playing golf at the age of eight.

He went on to attend the Tournament Golf College in Plymouth and is in the process of completing a scholarship programme at the University of Kentucky.

Stow's field at Gullane earlier this month contained past Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Mark James, along with many current European Tour players.

He posted a one-over-par 72 in his opening round before an impressive three-under-par 68 in his final round to seal the first qualifying spot.

And he is now relishing the chance to play alongside the world's golfing elite.

"At the moment I'm not really that nervous because I can't quite grasp the scale of the tournament. I think when I get there, I'll realise," he said,

"I'm just going to keep a level head and try and play golf like I normally do because I know I can play great.

"It's an amazing experience for an amateur. Just to make the cut would be phenomenal.

"I don't have any expectations, I'm just going to go there and try and get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible."