8am Round-Up: Walker Cup duo out to climb Alps Tour

Ewen Ferguson, back row second right, and Jack McDonald, front row left, were both in GB&I's winning Walker Cup side at Royal Lytham last year. Picture: Getty Images

Ewen Ferguson, back row second right, and Jack McDonald, front row left, were both in GB&I's winning Walker Cup side at Royal Lytham last year. Picture: Getty Images

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Scottish Walker Cup duo Ewen Ferguson and Jack McDonald are hoping to scale the heights on the Alps Tour next season as they look to secure playing opportunities.

The pair are among six Scots to enter the third-tier circuit’s Qualifying School, which starts in just over a week’s time at La Cala in southern Spain.

Along with former Scottish team-mate Jamie Savage, Ferguson and McDonald have secured exemptions into the 54-hole final on 15-17 December.

For Craig Sutherland, James McGilvray and Clarke Lutton, the first stage awaits at the same venue on 11-12 December.

Former British Boys champion Ferguson and McDonald helped Great Britain & Ireland pull off an impressive win over the United States in the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham last year.

They both came through the first stage in this season’s European Tour Qualifying School but failed to make it to the recent final, meaning they missed on a category for the Challenge Tour.

Both will be hoping their management companies can secure some invitations for the second-tier circuit but, in the meantime, the Alps Tour can help them stay competitive and also gain experience in the paid ranks.

McDonald has headed to Portugal, where he’s set to play in two upcoming events on the Algarve Pro Tour, to prepare for his card bid.

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Paul McGinley is sitting last after getting off to a nightmare start in the Champions Tour Qualifying School final at the Disney resort in Orlando.

The 2014 Ryder Cup captain slumped to a 13-over-par 85 at Disney’s Magnolia Course in Lane Buena Vista, where the damage was done by him covering the back nine in 48.

McGinley, who’d come through a regional qualifier at the same venue, ran up a triple-bogey 8 at the 14th before taking a quintuple-bogey 9 at the 17th.

As American Scott Parel set the pace with a seven-under-par 65, Frenchman Jean Van de Velde fared best among the European hopefuls.

The 1999 Open Championship runner-up carded a two-under 70 to sit joint-10th, a shor ahead of Sweden’s Magnus P Atlevi.

Welsh pair Philip Price and Stephen Dodd posted 73 and 74 respectively while two-time Scottish Senior Open champion Barry Lane had a 75.

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Jack Nicklaus has challenged the golf industry to show the right leadership and seize its opportunity to be an “enormous worldwide game”.

Addressing the 2016 HSBC Golf Business Forum at the Marriott Sawgrass Resort and Spa, the 18-time major winner described how he believes golf can gain momentum following a watershed year in 2016.

It featured golf’s return to the Olympics, Asia’s first winner of a World Golf Championship at the WGC-HSBC Champions, and maiden winners of all four majors in the men’s game.

“Tournament golf is in a healthy state now - healthier than it’s ever been and still on the rise,” said Nicklaus during a lively discussion with Giles Morgan, HSBC’s global head of sponsorship and events.

“The players showcasing the game at the moment are great for the sports, like McIlroy, Day and Spieth. But what is most important to me is they are great kids, and they represent the game and themselves quite well.

“The Olympics was definitely a great boost for the game and it was well-accepted. Because of the Olympics, and with medals won by six different countries, the game of golf has been introduced and showcased to a lot of people.

“We have more than 35 golf federations around the world today than we had before golf returned to the Olympics. It was especially important to many parts of the world where golf is not predominantly played, or new and emerging markets.”

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World No 7 Adam Scott is feeling quietly confident heading into the Australian PGA Championship starting tomorrow at the RACV Royal Pines Resort in Queensland.

The former Masters champion finally claimed this title in 2013 after a series of near misses, and looked to be on course to successfully defend his title 12 months later, only to be denied in a play-off by fellow Australian Greg Chalmers in a marathon play-off.

On that occasion, he and Chalmers played the 18th hole a total of eight times on a gripping final day, once in regulation and a further seven times during the play-off, which Wade Ormsby also contested.

But, with renowned golf course architect Graham Marsh having since revamped the back nine, Scott will at least be spared a permanent reminder of the emotional and physical pain he experienced that day.

“In some ways I guess it’s good [that the 18th has been remodelled], but it’s pretty extreme now,” said Scott. It’s changed dramatically, and now I think it’s probably one of the most important greens to hit.”

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John Henry made nine birdies as he carded a seven-under-par 64 to win the latest CT Sports Academy Winter Series event at Leven Links.

The Clydebank & District man finished three shots clear of the field, with Ryan Campbell and Ben Craggs sharing second spot.

On a day when 10 players beat par, local man and former South African Amateur champion Brian Soutar finished joint-fourth alongside Elmwood College student Andrew Ni.

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