A couple of weeks short of his 25th birthday, Law has been unable to reach the top rung on the ladder as quickly as contemporaries from his amateur days like Tommy Fleetwood, the 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship winner at Gleneagles, and another Englishman, Eddie Pepperell. The Aberdonian is heading in the right direction, though, and is optimistic that a third Challenge Tour campaign in a row will be his last.
The European Tour’s feeder circuit may already have visited Kenya this year, but the season starts for real today. The Red Sea Challenge in Egypt is the first of an almost unbroken run of 26 events leading into the Grand Final, which is again being held in Oman, in November. Law’s goal is to be sitting inside the top 15 on the money-list at that stage, having been 66th then 70th in his two seasons to date.
“The first year I had on the Challenge Tour I was quite steady the whole season,” said the two-time Scottish Amateur champion. “I plodded along quite nicely and finished in the top 70, which I thought was fairly successful for my first year. Last season, I played OK again but missed too many cuts by either a shot or two shots.
“As a result, I got to about six events left and found myself sitting 150th on the money-list. I then managed to string together three top 10s in a row to keep my card and that gave me belief. Not only did I have three events where I was contending, but it was also pleasing to turn it on when I needed to because finishing 150th would have meant me heading back to a mini-Tour.
“I got a bit of momentum going, which is so important. Now I’ve got to try and make a bad week finishing 25th-30th rather than missing the cut. That’s the most important thing I have probably learned over the past two seasons.”
Brooks Koepka, now sitting in the world’s top 20 and a strong contender to make his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine later this year, had moved up to the European Tour before Law earned his Challenge Tour card. Newly-crowned Spanish Open champion Andrew Johnston was on the second-tier circuit in his rookie season, though, and Law is under no illusion about the performance level he needs to attain to move up that ladder once more.
“There’s lots of good players out there but, on any given day, they aren’t any different in terms of ability to myself or any of the other four guys [Jack Doherty, George Murray, Paul Shields and Duncan Stewart] on Team SSE Scottish Hydro this year. They’ve maybe got the experience of playing on the European Tour before or being on the Challenge Tour a bit longer. I hope I’m in their shoes this year where I’ve had two seasons and feel I am ready to make that step up.
“The Challenge Tour is the same as the mini-Tours. You don’t want to stay on it for too long. Having said that, the standard on the Challenge Tour is good so you have to play very well to get off it. And the best way to do that, of course, is through finishing in the top 15 on the money-list rather than through the Qualifying School.
“I’ve seen guys like Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell, both fantastic players and better than we were in the amateur ranks, get on to the European Tour early in their professional careers, but I have just got to try and stay patient. Everyone progresses at different rates and there’s different routes to get there. It’s tough, of course, to make a living off the Challenge Tour, but it’s a great grounding and I think when you finally get to the European Tour it makes you appreciate what a fantastic opportunity that is.”
Doherty, Shields and Stewart are also in this week’s field, as are four other Scots – Scott Henry, Peter Whiteford, Ross Kellett and Ross Cameron, who has secured an invitation through his recent exploits on the Pro Golf Tour. Making his professional debut, meanwhile, is Frenchman Romain Langasque, who signed off in style in the amateur ranks with a five-under-par 67 in the final round of the Masters.