Golf: Forrest aims to muscle in on big events after gym work

GRANT FORREST, who spearheads a strong Lothians challenge in next week's Scottish Boys' Championship, is hoping sessions in the gym will prove equally important this season to the work he's been putting in on his game over the winter.

The Scottish Under-16 champion from Craigielaw, who faces Leven Thistle's Cameron Mitchell in the first round at West Kilbride on Monday, was concerned about the yardage he was losing to some of his rivals last season and decided to do something about it.

"I found myself giving away a good few yards but the work I've been doing in the gym over the winter has been helping as I'm definitely hitting it a bit further," he said.

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Last year, in his first appearance in the championship, Forrest reached the third round at Royal Aberdeen. He was playing off 2.5 then but is now down to +1 after emerging as one of the country's brightest young prospects.

"At the Boys' Championship last year I was still quite new to the Scottish scene but now I've got a lot more experience," he added.

"Topped by the fact I won the Scottish Under-16 Championship (at Largs], last year was really good for me but I now need to keep progressing and that means winning bigger events like the Boys' Championship and perhaps even at men's level.

"I will be heading to West Kilbride with a lot more expectations than I had this time last year. I know I'll probably be one of the players people will be gunning for but I think that can only be a good thing, really."

Forrest, who has one more crack at the title after this one, is one of five Craigielaw players in the field, the East Lothian club providing the second biggest representation after Troon Welbeck.

Also flying the Craigielaw flag are Ewen Donaldson, Nathan Free, Euan Mackay and Greg Smail and Forrest admitted: "We'll all want to see each other doing well and I'm sure there will be a bit of competition to see who can do the best."

This will be the tenth time West Kilbride has hosted the event, and winners at the Ayrshire venue have included Stewart Whiteford, brother of European Tour player Peter, and Musselburgh's Lee Harper, who won in 1999.

Stephen Buckley, a Prestonfield member at the time, succeeded Harper as champion but Baberton's Paul Ferrier, who won at Dunbar in 2007, has been the only other Lothians champion since then.

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In addition to Forrest, new Kingsknowe member Graeme Duncan, runner-up in last year's Scottish Boys Stroke-Play Championship, Euan Paterson of Bruntsfield Links, Liberton's Anthony Blaney, Louis Gaughan of Bathgate and West Linton's Fraser Thain look to be the players with the best chance of ending that run.

Michael Bacigalupo of Longniddry, Musselburgh's Cameron Marr and Tantallon youngsters Chris Low and Calum Hill will also be aiming to make their mark, although whether they can make it to the later stages of the event remains to be seen.

The favourite to succeed David Law, who went on to make history as the first player to win the Scottish Boys Championship and Allied Surveyors Scottish Amateur Championship in the same year, is Barassie's Jack McDonald.

He rubber-stamped his potential with an impressive win in the Scottish Boys' Stroke Play event at Ladybank last summer and Forrest, for one, is a McDonald fan.

"I played with Jack in an event in France earlier in the year and he was amazing," said the East Lothian player. "But the beauty of a match-play event like this is that anything can happen."

The handicap ballot fell at 5.4 with 32 players on the reserve list. The first match tees off at 6.45am on Monday with the 36-hole final starting at 8.30am next Saturday.