Jack Doherty is leading home hope in Scottish Challenge

Grant Forrest watches his tee shot at the 10th in the opening round of the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore. Picture: Marc Runnacles/Getty Images
Grant Forrest watches his tee shot at the 10th in the opening round of the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore. Picture: Marc Runnacles/Getty Images
Share this article
0
Have your say

Jack Doherty was the only home player out of 19 in the field to break par on a tough opening day in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore.

Doherty, who received a timely confidence boost for the event after finishing runner-up in France just under a fortnight ago, carded a one-under 70 to sit in a share of 15th spot.

He signed for four birdies, including one at his last hole, the tenth, where he hit a 7-iron to 10 feet to set up that opportunity.

“That was probably the hardest conditions we’ve ever had here,” said the 35-year-old afterwards. “I’ve got four layers on and normally two or three would be enough.

“Maybe it’s old age, but it was unreal out there. There was no let up and a lot of the holes had crosswinds.”

Doherty normally doesn’t use a caddie on the second-tier circuit but was glad that he does for his home event.

“Having a caddie - Nathan Stone, who works on the Ladies Tour, is on the bag - made a big difference,” he added.

“That meant I could keep my hands in my pockets most of the time and it was too windy for an umbrella.”

Doherty’s effort left him sitting five shots off the lead, held by Welshman Richard James after he carded an eagle and seven birdies on the Dave Thomas-designed course.

“I said to Nathan before going out that it was a day for getting the head down and just doing as well as we could,” said Doherty of the conditions.

“My game is in a good place and I’m feeling comfortable on the golf course at the moment.”

Another Ayrshireman, Jack McDonald, was next best among the Scots with a 72, one better than Scott Henry, who followed a drop shot at the 11th with a double-bogey at the next.

Jamie McLeary, the 2009 winner, opened with a 74, as did Peter Whiteford, Craig Lee, Ross Kellett, James Ross, Greig Hutcheon, Andrew McArthur, Grant Forrest and Danny Kay.

They were all sitting inside the projected cut heading into the second round, but Craig Lawrie (75), David Law (76), Paul Shields (77), Bradley Neil (77), Sean Lawrie (79) and Zander Culverwell (82) were all below the line.

Despite the rain never really stopping all day, a course that has had flooding issues in the past in this event stood up remarkably well.

“You wouldn’t have known it had been raining as there was not one puddle out there,” reported Doherty. “The course is in fantastic condition and the greens are the best I have ever seen them.”