Neil and Forrest boost Scottish golf hopes in Belek

Grant Forrest has impressed since turning professional
Grant Forrest has impressed since turning professional
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It will probably take one of them to go low in the final round to claim victory, but the performances so far from both Bradley Neil and Grant Forrest in the Turkish Airlines Challenge have been a welcome boost for Scottish golf in the professional ranks.

The pair are sitting alongside each other in joint-eighth, having covered 54 holes at Gloria Golf in Belek in 13-under-par. That has given them a chance of being in the mix down the stretch in the final round, although, with seven shots to make up on Englishman Ryan Evans, something special is required for either Neil or Forrest to land a title triumph. Nonetheless, the duo’s presence on the leaderboard as it gets to the business end of just the second event on this season’s second-tier circuit is encouraging, especially at a time when fresh blood is badly needed to bring down the average age of Scots on the European Tour from its current mark of 37.

Neil, who is just 21, may have struggled at first to find his feet in the paid ranks, but his confidence is clearly growing all the time, evidenced by the former Amateur champion having followed an opening 74 in this event with rounds of 64 and 65. The latter included an eagle and eight birdies, five of which came around a triple-bogey 7 at the eighth.

Forrest, pictured, who is in his first full season in the paid ranks, made seven birdies as he followed opening efforts of 69 and 66 with a 68. The 23-year-old looks cut out for his new career, having enjoyed a great start when he finished just outside the top 40 on his professional debut in the Dunhill Links Championship last October.

Elsewhere, Richie Ramsay and Pamela Pretswell both lost ground in their respective assignments. After a third-round 72, Ramsay is eight shots behind Austrian Bernd Wiesberger heading into the final round of the Shenzen International in China, where Stephen Gallacher jumped up the leaderboard following a four-under 68.

Joint-second overnight, Pretswell slipped to a share of sixth as her 70 was eclipsed by the nine-under 62 that catapulted Mel Reid into a four-shot lead in the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open at Club de Golf Terramar, near Barcelona.