Grant Forrest secures Scottish Open slot
NEW Scottish amateur champion Grant Forrest has earned himself a dream date on one of the biggest stages in the game.
His win in the SGU’s flagship event at Royal Dornoch has secured a spot in next summer’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
“I hadn’t thought about that before today,” admitted the 19-year-old Craigielaw player ,after crushing Bearsden’s Richard Docherty in Saturday’s title showdown 9 and 7.
“But it was in the back of my mind that I could be playing in the Scottish Open. I’ve never teed it up with the pros before so it will be a great experience.”
More immediately, Forrest is almost certain to be rewarded with a first Scotland men’s cap in next week’s Home Internationals.
The side for an event being played at Glasgow Gailes was due to be named today and Forrest looked a stick-on to join Baberton’s Paul Ferrier in the 11-strong line-up.
“Making one of the men’s teams was one of my goals this year, so that would be nice,” he admitted.
Forrest is due to head off on a holiday to Turkey with his mum Audrey and little sister Alisa tomorrow.
“I’ll still probably go but try and get back early so I can join up with the rest of the team if I do get picked,” he added.
Soon after the Home Internationals he’ll start preparing to return to the University of San Diego, where he will be going into his sophomore year. “I’ve got three more years there and plan to see it out as I want to get a degree, possibly in accounting or something else business-related,” he said.
Forrest’s win was the biggest margin in the final since Colin Montgomerie claimed the title at Nairn 25 years ago.
Despite being the favourite, the East Lothian teenager pointed to first-tee nerves as the reason his opening blow wasn’t the best.
“It was close to a shank, the result of a fast swing,” he reported with a smile afterwards.
He still managed to win that hole, holing from 12 feet for a par, and quickly found himself four up after four as his opponent made a nervous start.
After then finding himself five down, Docherty rallied with back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th but Forrest won the 18th with a par to hold a four-hole cushion at the halfway stage.
And, after being let off the hook when the Glaswegian three-putted the 20th from 25 feet, he wasted no time in finishing the job off.
“Tee to green today was the worst I’ve hit it all week but when you’re playing nine rounds in a week you can’t expect to have perfect timing all the time,” said the new champion.
“It was similar to Friday, when I wasn’t on with my long game but was able to rely on my short game, which is normally my strength.”
Forrest is the first Lothians player to claim the crown since John Gallagher, who beat Keir McNicoll in the 2007 final at Prestwick. In becoming the first Craigielaw player to lift the title, he’s added another chapter to the East Lothian club’s remarkable strike rate in national events in recent years.
Forrest himself has now claimed three top titles, having won the Scottish Under-16s (2009) and Scottish Boys (2010) before this triumph.
And, in 2006, the Scottish Boys’ Stroke-Play Championship fell to another of the club’s young products, Shaun McAllister.
Forrest’s latest victory was remarkable given that it came just three weeks after the death of his dad Graeme from cancer.
“Winning this wasn’t even in the back of my mind three weeks ago,” he admitted. “I just came up here to see what would happen – and it happened.”
No wonder mum Audrey was in tears as she gave the new Scottish champion a warm greenside hug after his win.
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