Hot on the heels of becoming the first players to benefit from a new support initiative for young Scottish professionals, Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson have now earned an upcoming European Tour start.
Both players have secured spots in the Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort in Portimao, where they are set to tee up against major champions, Ryder Cup players and a posse of fellow Scots.
Forrest secured his berth in the €500,000 event on 11-14 May through a top-five finish in the Turkish Airlines Challenge last weekend, getting Ferguson into the field, too, in the process as he freed up an invitation that had been made secured by the pair’s management company, Bounce Sports.
For both players, it will be just their second European Tour appearance, having both played in the Dunhill Links Championship last October, when Forrest finished just outside the top 40 on his debut in the paid ranks.
Among the players the young Scots will be competing against in Portugal is former Masters champion Mike Weir, 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie and Andy Sullivan, who played in last year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Also in the field are Marc Warren David Drysdale, Duncan Stewart, Scott Henry and Craig Lee, with Ross Kellett, Bradley Neil and David Law probably too far down the reserve list to add to that contingent.
Meanwhile, Richie Ramsay was left as the last Scot standing in the Volvo China Open in Beijing, where Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal stormed into a three-shot lead at the halfway stage at Topwin Golf & Country Club.
As Ramsay just scraped into the weekend on one-under following rounds of 71 and 72, David Drysdale (71-73) and Stephen Gallacher (71-73) both missed the cut by a shot, the latter after taking a bogey at his closing hole in the second round.
Larrazabal backed up his opening 64 with an equally impressive 66 to sit on 14-under, giving him a cushion over the overnight leader, Frenchman Alexander Levy after his second-round 70, and South African Dylan Frittelli, who signed for an eagle and seven birdies in his 63.
“It’s been a long time since I have been leading a golf tournament and I love it, so hopefully another good 36 holes and we will see what happens,” said Larrazabal, who recorded the last of his four European Tour triumphs in the 2015 BMW International Open.
Elsewhere, Scottish duo John Henry and Neil Fenwick slipped out of contention on the final day as Irishman Gavin Moynihan claimed victory in the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Lookers Championship at Close House in Northumberland. Two off the lead in joint second spot at the start of the day, Henry ended up joint 12th after a closing 73 while a nightmare 80 dropped Fenwick to a share of 48th.
Moynihan, a member of GB&I’s winning Walker Cup team in 2015, held off another Irishman, Dermot McElroy, in a thrilling last-round battle to secure a £10,000 top prize. “I am delighted to win,” said Moynihan. “Myself and Dermot played GB&I boys teams together and were foursomes partners.”