Grant Forrest braced for Southerness test

Grant Forrest. Picture: Getty
Grant Forrest. Picture: Getty
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SAN Diego for Southerness. California for Castle Stuart. Temperature for trophies. Grant Forrest, the Scottish Amateur champion, is back home for the summer from his American college and faces a fair bit of swapping over the next couple of months.

Having only arrived back in East Lothian last weekend at the end of his second year at the University of San Diego, the 19-year-old has had little time to acclimatise for the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship starting tomorrow on the Solway Coast.

His expectations are low – indeed, he almost pulled out of the 72-hole event that has fallen in the past to Dean Robertson, Stephen Gallacher, Alastair Forsyth, Richie Ramsay and Andrew Coltart, after feeling “burnout” at the end of the college campaign – but the Craigielaw player is hoping his batteries will be fully charged again by the time he lines up in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in early July.

“I’ve been feeling the cold since I got home but I’m sure I’ll get used to it,” said Forrest, whose 9 and 7 triumph over Bearsden’s Richard Doherty in last year’s Scottish Amateur final at Dornoch was the biggest since Colin Montgomerie’s victory at Nairn 25 years earlier. It also came just three weeks after the death of his father, Graeme, from cancer. “It’s good to get back to see my mum and sister again,” he added.

Helped by winning last month’s West Coast Conference Championships, Forrest has established himself as Scotland’s leading player in the current World Amateur Golf Rankings, albeit just outside the top 100. “I’ve been practising every day since I got home and am heading down to Southerness on Thursday,” said the winner of three Scottish titles after also claiming the under-16 crown in 2009 then the boys’ match-play one the following year. “I played there in the Boys’ Home Internationals in 2010. It’s a great course and I loved it.”

The St Andrews Links Trophy and Amateur Championship – a journey to Kent for that will almost feel like going back to California – are also on Forrest’s domestic schedule before, as one of the rewards for that win at Dornoch, he returns to the Highlands for the Scottish Open in Inverness.

“The European Team Championship is on the same week and I’ve not spoken to anyone at the SGU about that yet, but I would really like to play at Castle Stuart, especially after seeing Jack McDonald doing so well there last year and also getting to play with Ernie Els the week before he became Open champion.”

Although the South African’s defence of the Claret Jug at Muirfield is taking place close to Forrest’s home at Archerfield, the young Scot hasn’t entered the qualifying for that. “It would be nice to play in it on my doorstep, but we’re moving house at the start of July so it’s going to be busy around then,” he said of that decision. “But, hopefully, I’ll get other chances to play in The Open at Muirfield as that would certainly be cool.”