IN THE the words of the iconic 1960s tune by The Mamas and the Papas, Grant Forrest was, indeed, California Dreamin’.
“It’s miserable,” he groaned as the rain hammered down outside his North Berwick home on Wednesday afternoon. The week before, he’d been lapping up the California sunshine, finishing off his third year at the University of San Diego before returning home for a packed programme on the amateur circuit.
“You think you should be used to this weather, but it doesn’t get any easier coming back to this,” added the 20-year-old, who goes straight into domestic action in the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship at Panmure starting today.
It’s six years since a home player won, Comrie’s Wallace Booth achieving the feat at The Duke’s in St Andrews. Having missed the cut twice in a row, Forrest’s form in this particular event is hardly stellar, but he is a genuine contender nonetheless.
Three titles fell to the Craigielaw player on this season’s ultra-competitive US college circuit, the last of which secured his place in Europe’s team for next month’s Palmer Cup against the USA at Walton Heath.
“My win in the Redhawk Invitational at Chambers Bay was definitely the best one,” declared Forrest, who was recruited for USD – known as the Toreros – by Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother.
“It was probably the strongest field I’ve played against over there and I also shot my lowest tournament round  on the course that is staging the US Open next year.”
Talking of majors, Forrest qualified for last year’s Open Championship at Muirfield, where he enjoyed the shortest journey of any of the competitors – at least those sleeping in their own bed, anyway.
“I’m going to try to qualify again,” he said of an event being held this year at Royal Liverpool. “I get into the final stage, so it’s worth another crack.”
Before then, in addition to this week’s event and the Palmer Cup, in which he will have Andrew Coltart as his captain, Forrest also has the St Andrews Links Trophy and the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush on his schedule.
“I’ve never played at Panmure before, but I’m looking forward to it,” said the world No 54 – Scotland’s highest-ranked amateur player – of his first assignment in Angus.
Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie) and Barassie’s Jack McDonald, also both inside the world’s top 100, and Cawder’s Jamie Savage, winner of the Irish equivalent recently, are among those more acclimatised among the home contingent.
The field for the 72-hole event also includes South African No 2 Christiaan Bezuidenhout as well as Jimmy Mullen, the young Englishman who lost out to compatriot Matt Fitzpatrick for the Silver Medal as leading amateur at Muirfield last July.