COLLEGE kid James Ross is hoping to send out a ‘red alert’ when he starts his domestic campaign at last year’s Open venue this weekend.
The Lytham Trophy is his first event since returning home for the summer from the University of Houston.
It’s the start of a road Ross is hoping will lead to a first Scotland senior cap in August and he’s feeling fresh thanks to a light playing schedule over the winter.
“This year at university I’ve been red-shirting, which means I was still fully part of the team, but I just didn’t travel to tournaments,” said the Royal Burgess star.
“I wanted to save my final year of playing eligibility – you only get four over there – for next year.
“I’m really excited to play again this summer and I think the redshirt year has been great from the point of view of re-energising me and giving me back my interest in playing.
“I think in previous years I have gotten a little bit burnt out with tournaments because in the States we have such a busy spring schedule, combined with exams, so it’s a lot to do.
“I’m much more refreshed this season so I’m looking forward to the summer for sure.”
Ross just missed out on the Scotland team that won the Home Internationals at Glasgow Gailes last year, earning the reserve spot for the event in Ayrshire.
A strong showing at Lytham, where the 72-hole events starts tomorrow, would be the perfect way to launch his bid to make this year’s side at Ganton in Yorkshire.
“The redshirt year has been really productive as I’ve had a lot of freedom and time to work on the things I had to improve on,” added the former Lothians Championship runner-up.
“(Coach) Kevin Kirk and I got to spend a lot of time together on the practice ground and the swing is developing. I’m looking forward to the year ahead and continuing to improve.
“I only got back home at the start of the week and I’m looking forward to playing the Lytham Trophy, Irish and Welsh Open Stroke-Plays before a week off.
“This is the earliest I have been home in a few years since I went off to the States, so I’m looking forward to competing in these events.”
George Macgregor was the first Lothians player to lift the Lytham Trophy in 1975, since when both Stephen Gallacher (1995) and Lloyd Saltman (2007) have emulated the feat.
Joining Ross in the field this week are Dunbar duo Danny Kay and Zander Culverwell, as well as Neil Henderson from The Renaissance Club.
Henderson, a former Scottish Junior Champion of Champions, also has his sights set on the Home Internationals after honing his game in the Florida sunshine over the winter.
“I played a few mini pro tour events and had a second, third and eighth as well as 20th in a bigger two-day one,” he said.
“I also played the Florida Azalea Amateur at Palatka and shot 73, 68 and 69 to finish tied fifth. There was a lot of college players in it, so it was good.
“Since coming home I’ve been practising hard at Renaissance – hopefully I can do enough to get into the Home Internationals before turning pro at the end of the summer.”