Forsyth’s sights on top-ten finish after closing eagle

IT was a contender for shot of the day. From exactly 250 yards to the pin at the 18th on the PGA Centenary Course, Alastair Forsyth cut a 3-wood around a tree to 20 feet and holed the putt for a closing eagle-3.

It gave the Scot an opening 70, two-under, and marked a decent start in his bid to secure a big enough cheque in Perthshire to earn a place back at the top table in European golf next season.

A two-time Tour winner, Forsyth has had to rely mainly on invites this term after losing his card last year. By his reckoning, he needs to win around £70,000 to finish in the all-important top 115 on the money-list. He’s 133rd at the moment.

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The problem is that he might not secure too many starts between now and the end of the season. To get into next week’s European Masters in Switzerland, he needs a top-ten finish here. “I’m trying not to put extra pressure on myself, but every chance I get is important,” admitted the 35-year-old before heading off to take in last night’s Europa League qualifier at Ibrox.

“A top-ten is my first target as that would get me into next week but there’s no doubting the fact that the chance to earn enough money this week to get my card back is an extra incentive.

“I’m not someone who is obsessed with looking at the money-list and I’m certainly not the type to wish ill on others.

“But I am aware that there are a lot of guys below me at the moment who are going to get twice as many opportunities as I’m likely to get between now and the end of the season.”

Forsyth’s effort, which he described as “up and down” with a “nice finish”, was one better than both Gary Orr and Chris Doak, the latter having been up at 5am for a scheduled 7.30am start only to be left kicking his heels for a spell due to the early-morning fog delay. “I went back up to the Dormy House for a second breakfast,” he said with a smile. He’s getting used to weather delays. “This is the third event in a row it’s happened,” revealed the Team Scottish Hydro player. “On the Challenge Tour in both Denmark and Norway we were delayed by rain.”

Doak said his day had been “a bit of struggle”. His main problem was judging the pace of the greens.

“They were faster than they had been in practice,” he said in ruing the three putts he took at the first, seventh and tenth.

West Linton’s Gareth Wright, the player Doak beat to claim the Scottish PGA Championship on the neighbouring King’s Course last October, also made a decent start.

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The Welshman was three-under with one to play but found trouble off the tee at the 18th and had to play out sideways. It led to a closing bogey but he was still “very pleased overall” with a 70.

Wright, whose dad, Ian, is the professional at West Linton, reckoned a group that included two of his Tartan Tour colleagues – David Patrick and Scott Henderson – had worked in his favour.

“While I won’t deny I was feeling nervous on the first tee, I think that was an advantage and, if I’m still around for the weekend, I might get drawn with a big name then,” he said.

Patrick covered his opening 11 holes in three-under but back-to-back double bogeys led to him having to settle for a 74.