Two major winners, Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, are bidding to add the Sunningdale Foursomes to their CVs this week, having entered the popular event at the Surrey venue in a couple of all-Scottish pairings.
Lyle teams up with Prestwick amateur James Bunch, who once beat Justin Rose in the Amateur Championship, while Lawrie, on his debut in the event, is joining forces with his oldest son, Craig,
“We played the Old yesterday and the New today,” said the Aberdonian ahead of a first-round clash on Tuesday with two French professionals, Verhaeghe Arnaud and Biaugeaud Guillaume. “Both courses in very good nick for this time of the year.”
Apart from a couple of North-East Alliance outings, Lawrie has not played competitively since winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa last month.
Having teamed up with his other son, Michael, to give a good account of themselves in the team event as well at Fancourt, he is now looking to do likewise with Craig, a professional himself.
“Both of us have hit it nicely in the practice rounds and now we are very much looking forward to the week,” added Lawrie.
In an event that sees English amateur duo Marco Penge and Sophie Lamb set out as the defending champions, Lyle and Bunch are up against Italian duo Andrea Corbellini and Federico Elli in their opening test.
Five Scots - Grant Forrest, Danny Kay, Daniel Hendry, Jack McDonald and Jamie Savage - are in the field for the Casablanca Open, which gets underway today at Palmeraie Country Club and marks the start of the 2017 MENA Tour campaign.
For Hendry, who played in the same Scottish Boys’ team as both Forrest and McDonald when he was based in the UAE, it’s his professional debut and he is feeling “confident” about taking on the likes of proven MENA Tour campaigners like Zane Scotland, Craig Hinton and Lee Corfield.
“It wasn’t a really tough decision since I felt like I’m ready to take the next step in my career,” he said.
“I feel like I am a better player now and have a better grasp on the game. It is hard work and will require time. Therefore, I don’t put too much stress on the results.
“The idea is to have fun and when you have fun on the course, things usually go well.”
Forrest is looking to take up where he left off when finishing second behind fellow Scot Jack Doherty in last week’s Qualifying School, which was also held in Morocco.
“I’m really looking forward to competing again,” said the East Lothian player. “The golf course for this event is completely different to last week’s. It’s wide open with big greens, so it will be a lot more scorable.”
PGA Cup captain Albert MacKenzie has been busy using the winter to plan for Great Britain and Ireland’s defence of the Llandudno Trophy.
Last week the 55-year-old, who is the head PGA pro at Saunton in Devon, went back to his roots, heading home to Hopeman near Lossiemouth.
MacKenzie invited his two vice-captains, Martyn Thompson (Parkstone) and Cameron Clark (Moor Hall), for a get-together as part of the preparations for the match with America at Foxhills Club and Resort in Surrey in September.“I wanted to have a meeting and there was no better place than to take them back to where it all began for me – our wonderfully friendly and welcoming club up in the north of Scotland,” said MacKenzie.
“Martyn, Cameron and I went over a lot of what happened at CordeValle (where they were all part of Jon Bevan’s backroom team in the 2015 win in California).
“We added some fresh content in amongst the very successful template that we used last time.
“We got a lot of productive work done in Scotland and I’m in a very good place at the moment with everything.
“The ball is very much rolling in earnest. There’s not really a day goes past now when I’m not thinking about something that’s going be happening in September.”
The Challenge Tour is heading back to Finland for the first time in three years.
It follows an announcement that the inaugural Viking Challenge will be played on the European Tour’s feeder circuit at Miklagard Golf in Kløfta in August.
The Scandinavian tournament is the fourth new event in a 2017 schedule that encompasses 27 tournaments in 21 countries.