Grant Forrest dusted off his “tournament rust” to be the leading Scot after the opening round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne.
The Craigielaw player’s level-par 72 left him sitting in a share of 25th, just ahead of Connor Syme after the Drumoig man signed for a 73. Barassie’s Jack McDonald had four birdies and six bogeys in his 74, a shot better than Ewen Ferguson after the Bearsden player could only muster one birdie.
“Overall, I’m happy with today’s round,” said Forrest on a day when home player and defending champion Zach Murray set the pace with a six-under-par 66. “It was my first stroke-play tournament round since the US Amateur in August, so it was a case of getting the scoring mentality back and getting rid of the tournament rust off. I hit a lot of good shots but wasn’t able to capitalise on a few of them. However, I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
Forrest is paying his first visit to Royal Melbourne and added: “The course is excellent; it proves that a course doesn’t have to be long to be challenging. The greens are so fast and firm that you really have to think through your approaches and play away from some flags.”
Concurring, Syme said: “Getting in the right spots on the greens is so important to give yourself a chance. I made a couple of bogeys by three-putting, which is always annoying. I hit it lovely, though, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s round.”
In Thailand, Gavin Hay and Clarke Lutton, both with one-over 73s, were the top Scottish performer as stage one of the Asian Tour Qualifying School got underway in Hua Hin and Bangkok. James Byrne signed for a 75 while Craig Sutherland and Robert Wilson carded 76 and 85 respectively.
Meanwhile, as well as Haggs Castle being a new stage one qualifying venue, Montrose Links, The Carrick on Loch Lomond and Mar Hall will all stage events on this season’s PGA EuroPro Tour. The third-tier circuit will visit Montrose Links on 5-7 July, The Carrick on Loch Lomond the following week then return to Scotland for the penultimate regular event on the schedule at Mar Hall on 7-9 September.