WHILE half of his Walker Cup team-mates have already joined the professional ranks, Ewen Ferguson is staying as an amateur for at least another year after ditching plans to try his luck at the European Tour Qualifying School.
The 19-year-old Bearsden player had been due to join Grant Forrest, one of his team-mates in Great Britain & Ireland’s record-breaking victory over the Americans at Royal Lytham 11 days ago, in this week’s stage one event at Collingtree Park in Northamptonshire.
However, Ferguson pulled out after sitting down with members of his family to discuss the options available to him, coming to the conclusion that having another season in the amateur ranks could be to his benefit in the long run and this season, after all, was his first full one playing in the top men’s event.
It’s a mature decision by the youngest member of the triumphant GB&I team in Lancashire, especially when it seemed the temptation to join the paid ranks had heightened after Ferguson beat Maverick McNealy, now the world No 1, in one of his singles matches in the Walker Cup, then forced Beau Hossler, another top-10 player in the global standings, to produce a last-hole birdie to beat him in the other head-to-head encounter at the Open Championship venue.
“I’m staying amateur for another year to progress my golf and develop both physically and mentally,” Ferguson, Scotland’s top-ranked player in 32nd, having jumped 10 spots in the latest standings, told The Scotsman.
The development is a timely boost for the Scottish amateur game as it prepares to come under a new unified umbrella next Thursday following the unanimous vote earlier this year to amalgamate the Scottish Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association.
“Ewen is a very good player and performed well at the recent Walker Cup, capping a good season for him personally,” acknowledged Steve Paulding, Scottish Golf’s performance manager. “But it’s a competitive golf world and we hope he can continue to maintain his progress and keep learning in the year ahead.”
Ferguson, who was initially named as first reserve for the Walker Cup before earning a step-up when Florida-based Englishman Sam Horsfield announced his withdrawal due to “personal reasons”, is heading to America next Friday on a month-long trip that will take in the Spirit International, an event in Houston that was won by both Brandt Snedeker and Martin Kaymer in their amateur days. “I come back from the States on 5 November, then will be heading out to Abu Dhabi with the Scotland squad before heading to Australia on January 1 to play in a few amateur events there,” added Ferguson, who held the British and Scottish Boys’ titles at the same time before winning the Scottish Champion of Champions and Craigmillar Park Open on successive weekends at the start of this season.
One of his main goals next year is likely to be making Scotland’s three-man team for the Eisenhower Trophy, which is being held in Mexico in September. Barassie’s Jack McDonald will also be available for that, having already decided before making the Walker Cup team that he’d be staying amateur next season, and the aforementioned Forrest could be, too. After rounds of 78, 76 and 74, he’s almost certain to miss the cut in that Qualifying School event, leaving him at a crossroads in his career.
Meanwhile, three Walker Cup team members – English duo Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen along with Irishman Paul Dunne – have earned invitations for next week’s £3.3 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.