THERE may have been an element of surprise when, three years ago, David Law became only the second amateur to win the PLGC Northern Open but not so yesterday as the Aberdonian reclaimed that prize as a professional.
Of all the Scottish players that have switched to the paid ranks in the past few years – and there’s been plenty – none has seen his career progress nearly as impressively as Law, who certainly emerged as a worthy winner at Murcar Links.
In an event reduced to 54 holes due to a haar-hit second day, the 23-year-old landed the £6,000 first prize with a polished performance in testing conditions on a tough layout that had one seasoned Tartan Tour campaigner biting his lip in fear of saying something he might regret.
One ahead at the start of the final 36 holes, Law, a two-times Scottish Amateur champion, closed with rounds of 68 and 71 for a six-under-par total of 207, winning by three shots from his Paul Lawrie Golf Centre stablemate, Greig Hutcheon.
As the Tartan Tour’s undisputed chieftain, it was no surprise to see Hutcheon emerge as the main challenger and, at one point in the final round, the 2010 winner managed to close within two shots of the leader.
One of the many impressive aspects about Law’s game, however, is that he has an ability to keep calm when the chips are down, as illustrated by the late thrust that produced three birdies in the final five holes to secure a fourth title triumph as a professional.
“It is different but still feels brilliant,” replied Law to being asked how this triumph felt to his success at Meldrum House in 2011, when he became the first amateur to claim the coveted title since his Hazlehead clubmate, Sandy Pirie, in 1970.
Since then, Law has used the third-tier Pro Golf Tour to earn a step up to the Challenge Tour. He’d arrived back on home soil fresh from having secured a first top ten on that circuit in St Omer last weekend and now Law is feeling cock-a-hoop heading into next week’s Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience already this year,” he admitted after making it two wins, two seconds and a fifth in this particular event over the past five years. “With the help of Paul Lawrie [his mentor] and my family, I’ve also made a lot of decisions that I needed to get right.
“For instance, I’ve taken a full-time caddie [St Andrean Allan Tulleth] this year and have benefited from that. I also decided not to play in the Czech Republic recently to make sure I wasn’t going to feel jaded. That was pretty smart and it has paid off.”
Hutcheon’s splendid closing efforts of 69 and 68 – he finished three shots ahead of Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick – were something of a surprise given he’d taken a “bit of a risk” by setting out with a brand-new set of irons.
“My old ones were so worn that I had to make the change at some time,” said the 41-year-old after his latest praiseworthy effort on the domestic circuit. “I was putting grips on them in my garage until 10pm last night and, though I made a couple of mistakes here and there, I played good golf all day, really.”
That certainly wasn’t the case for Andrew Oldcorn, though it was mission accomplished for him after signing off with a 67 – the best score of the week. “I’d made a horror start in my morning round, losing a ball to take an 8 at the sixth and finding myself eight-over after eight,” reported the former PGA champion.
In the remaining 28 holes, Oldcorn only dropped two more shots and covered the last 12 in four-under. “It was pride, really,” he said of the turnaround, “as I didn’t want to shoot a horrendous score.”
The 54-year-old finished a respectable joint-ninth in his first appearance in the event for around two decades. “I was swithering whether to play as two rounds in a day is a lot for me but, to be fair to myself, I played pretty good,” he added.