Snubbed by one support initiative for Scottish golfers, Paul Shields has been embraced by another. He decided to bite his tongue about the kick in the teeth delivered by Scottish Golf Support Ltd earlier in the year. The Kirkhill player is letting his clubs do the talking on that one.
However, Shields is delighted to have seen the spring put back in his step, first thanks to Paul Lawrie adding him to the stable of players supported by his foundation and now through being one of two newcomers this year in Team SSE Scottish Hydro.
Shields and David Law join some old faces – George Murray, Jack Doherty, Duncan Stewart, Pamela Pretswell and Sally Watson – in sporting the Team SSE Scottish Hydro name on their clothing this season, as well as benefiting from a support package that has proved tried and tested since its in 2011.
Six players – Craig Lee (2011), Chris Doak (2012), Callum Macaulay (2012), Jack Doherty (2013), Jamie McLeary (2013 and 2015) and Andrew McArthur (2015) – were all part of the set up when they earned step ups to the European Tour. In addition, Doak, McArthur and McLeary all chalked up Challenge Tour triumphs in that time, as did Kylie Walker on the Ladies European Tour with a brace of wins two seasons ago.
Apart from Watson, who is currently practising out in Florida, the “Class of 2016” gathered at Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa in Polmont yesterday, having earlier visited the Kelpies nearby. They’ll all aiming to skelp that little white ball well this season, of course, and it certainly looks like a line-up that could deliver further success from this particular initiative.
Either in their third or fourth year as team members, Doherty, Murray and Stewart share a hunger to get back on the European Tour, having sat at that table in the past.
It seems like yesterday, in fact, that Murray finished second in the Dunhill Links Championship, but that was actually in 2011. Three seasons is longer – much longer – than the Fifer wanted to spend back on the Challenge Tour, but there’s still some fight in his belly.
“I’d just chuck if I didn’t think I could get back,” he said.
The addition of Law, who has two Challenge Tour campaigns under his belt, and Shields, a rookie on that circuit this season, has introduced an exciting new element to the line-up. With that bit more experience, Law, in particular, looks as though he could be edging close to securing that step up and has already tasted victory this year, in the Sotogrande Masters, a MENA Tour event in Spain. “It was a tournament to fill in time and keep a bit of sharpness in my game, to be honest, but it was great to win,” said the Aberdonian. “Hopefully I can keep it going for the year and it is fantastic to be part of Team SSE Scottish Hydro.”
In her three years on the team, Pretswell has become the most improved player across the whole of Scottish golf, finishing 14th on the LET money list last year. Can she make the top 10 this season? “That would be a nice goal and I certainly feel my game has improved since last year,” she said.
As for Shields, he just smiled when asked about Scottish Golf Support Ltd’s snub. “I’m just excited to be included in Team SSE Scottish Hydro,” he declared, body-swerving that one like an old pro.
For more about the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa, check out http://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-inchyra-hotel-spa/