BIDDING to restore some pride to Scottish amateur golf after last season’s Walker Cup snub, Grant Forrest has joined Bradley Neil in making a promising start to the 2014 campaign.
Hot on the heels of Blairgowrie teenager Neil finishing third then second in two events in South Africa, Forrest dug deep to claim his third victory on the US college circuit.
One ahead going into the final round of The Farms Collegiate Invitational in Rancho Sante Fe, California, the San Diego University student birdied the first play-off hole to beat Kennesaw State’s Jimmy Beck.
That followed Beck picking up a birdie at the 18th hole in regulation and Forrest getting up and down from a bunker there to save par as the pair finished tied on six-under-par 210.
“I had been playing well in the lead up to the tournament and felt well prepared after staying here over the Christmas break,” said Forrest. “We played four qualifying rounds on the course so got plenty of practice and knowing where the pins were going to be helped a lot, too.
“In the a play-off, I hit a good 4-iron to the middle of the green on the par-5 to set up an eagle opportunity, while my opponent chipped on to four feet for birdie. I 2-putted and he missed his putt, so it was my day.”
The win, which also helped San Diego University secure the team title, comes in Forrest’s third year there, having been recruited by Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother.
The 20-year-old Craigielaw player was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year in 2012 then won the WCC Championship last year.
In between, he claimed the Scottish Amateur Championship at Royal Dornoch to increase his national title haul at home to three after winning the Scottish under-16s in 2009 then, two years later, the Scottish Boys.
Forrest, who qualified for last year’s Open and played with Mark O’Meara in the opening two rounds at Muirfield, is Scotland’s best bet at present to ensure there is no repeat of that Walker Cup wipeout in next year’s match at Royal Lytham.
He’s 72nd in the World Amateur Golf Rankings – 31 places higher than Neil, with Jack McDonald next best in 140th. “The points for yesterday’s event won’t go in till next week so hopefully i’ll move up some more,” noted Forrest, whose next event is the Pepperdine Invitational later this month in Oxnard, California.