THE cream of Europe’s leading amateur golfers descended on Royal Lytham last weekend to take on the challenge of one of the Open Championship’s toughest venues.

After opening with a superb first round score of 69, Peebles golfer Stephen Roger put himself in contention for the remainder of the weekend and found himself sharing top spot on the leaderboard during the final two rounds.

The former Cruden Bay man couldn’t quite keep pace with the leaders over the closing stretch and a few late bogeys proved costly.

But Stephen can be very proud of his efforts, eventually finishing in a share of eighth spot on 292, just four shots behind eventual winner, Joshua McMahon of Wallasey Golf Club.

Peebles team-mate Darren Howie also made the cut with rounds of 74 and 75, ending the tournament in 45th place within a high-quality field.

Both players have made impressive starts to the season, with Stephen now occupying third spot in the National Order of Merit rankings and Darren just a few points behind in fourth place.

Over in Spain, Darren’s brother Craig successfully made his first cut of the season on the Challenge Tour at the Challenge de Espana event, enjoying a spell in the top 10 during the third round. Four dropped shots in the front nine of his final round ended Craig’s challenge, but he bounced back with three birdies to finish with a74 and a two-under total of 286 and share of 35th place.

Next up for Craig is the Czech Republic and this week’s Prague Golf Challenge.