around 50 Scottish golfers – the vast majority of them Tour professionals – are set to compete on home soil in the coming few weeks as three separate circuits stage events in the game’s cradle.
Between them, the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and the Scottish Hydro Challenge, as well as a double-header on the PGA EuroPro Tour, will provide exciting opportunities for both established pros and those still cutting their teeth in the paid ranks.
In an event that will feature ten major champions, the home challenge in the £3 million Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen will be 13 minimum, with a strong possibility that will rise by one in the next fortnight.
The list predominantly features European Tour regulars, with Stephen Gallacher, the country’s top-ranked player, set to be joined by Paul Lawrie, Richie Ramsay, Scott Jamieson, Marc Warren, Craig Lee, David Drysdale, Peter Whiteford and Chris Doak.
PGA Tour duo Martin Laird and Russell Knox are also on the newly-published entry list after receiving invitations while included on it, too, are Greig Hutcheon, the Tartan Tour No 1, and Scottish Amateur champion Zander Culverwell. As things stand, Jamie McLeary, who is third reserve, also has a good chance of teeing it up in the Granite City, but the prospects for others like Alastair Forsyth, Andrew McArthur, Jack Doherty and Scott Henry appear to be slim.
Coincidentally, they all got into last week’s Irish Open at Fota Island but the field for the Scottish equivalent is a lot stronger, being spearheaded, of course, by title holder and current Open champion, Phil Mickelson.
Of those set to be in action in Aberdeen, only Hutcheon is among the 23-strong “Tartan Army” competing in this week’s Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore.
It is the 50th golf tournament supported as part of the Ryder Cup legacy programme and, in addition to a home stop for Challenge Tour card holders like McArthur, George Murray and David Law, offers a whole host of others a chance to test themselves against the emerging forces in European golf.
Paul Shields, for instance, is taking a week off the PGA EuroPro Tour to try his luck at a higher level, as is Zack Saltman, who, by sheer coincidence, got into this week’s £200,000 event when his older brother, Elliot, decided to concentrate instead on his bid to secure a top-five finish on this season’s EuroPro money-list.
Doing likewise is the ever-improving Neil Fenwick but, along with Elliot Saltman, his chance to shine on home soil will come when the third-tier circuit stages events at The Carrick and Royal Burgess – both carrying prize-funds of just over £39,000 – in the coming few weeks.