Far-travelled McGuigan takes long road home

OF THE 11 Scots who qualified for the Open, perhaps the player whose week in St Andrews will be more tied up with family than any other is Doug McGuigan. A nomad who was born in South African, spent part of his life in Canada and never thought of himself as anything other than Scottish, McGuigan will have his brother, Jeff, on the bag and his father, Francis, watching from the other side of the ropes.

McGuigan's dad hadn't set foot on Scottish turf for 32 years until making the trip home this week. A native of Alloa, Francis McGuigan, 63, was a professional footballer who played for Falkirk before moving to Blackpool and thence to Durban.

"My dad was a forward who played in the same side as Sir Stanley Matthews," recalled the golfer. "He had a chance to play in Durban and that's why he left the UK for South Africa. He loved the weather and decided not to return. He's not been back to Scotland since until he visited his sister and brother in Alloa, the place where he grew up, on Sunday."

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There was never any pressure exerted by the family on McGuigan, whose mother was South African, to represent the home of golf. "It was just something I wanted to do," he recalled. "I always dreamed of playing in the Ryder Cup one day and knew I could do that as a Scot but not as a South African."

Unable to try for his European Tour card last year after undergoing surgery on his left arm, McGuigan has mostly played in South Africa this season, where he's had two top five finishes, and earned his spot at the Open by finishing second at International Qualifying in January.

Having qualified for the Open early in the year, McGuigan was able to secure suitable accommodation in the Auld Toun and spent much of the last month living in Edinburgh and practising links golf at Craigielaw in East Lothian.

"From competing in the Dunhill, I've been round the Old Course six or seven times and that's a big help because it's not somewhere you can play blind," he said. "I've shot 68 here as well as a couple of 69s - and one of those 69s included a triple bogey on the 17th! So I know all about the Road Hole."

Although he lived in Vancouver for a number of years and played golf in North America for six years, the break-up of his marriage to a Canadian saw McGuigan return to make his home in South Africa this year. "All my family are there and my girlfriend lives there too," he said. "But if I was to get my card for the European Tour I would also have a base in Scotland."