Chris Doak, the 2010 winner, is hoping a return to the M&H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship for this week’s 100th staging at Gleneagles proves less painful than his most recent Tartan Tour outing.
The 38-year-old ended up in hospital in Inverness after the first round of last month’s Highland Golf Links Pro-Am and his part in that event, a rare competitive outing this season, was cut short.
“I was constipated, simple as that,” said Doak, laughing. “I was doubled over at Dornoch but took pain killers and managed to get round. I then went to the hospital in Inverness that night and they wanted to give me suppositories, but I said I’d just go and get something at the pharmacy. However, that didn’t have any influence and I couldn’t even hit an 8-iron 100 yards the next day so had to pull out, which was a shame.”
This time last year, Doak was still on the European Tour, but fighting a losing battle in a bid to hang on to his card due to a nerve problem in his left arm causing his little finger and ring finger to go numb.
After finishing outside the top 110 in the Race to Dubai, his bid to bounce straight back through the Qualifying School ended abruptly as a trapped nerve in his neck led to him retiring during the second stage in Spain. “2015 you have been a nightmare,” he wrote on Twitter at the time.
Little has been seen of the bunnet-wearing Doak this season. His sole European Tour appearance was in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco while five Challenge Tour starts have yielded just one cut. It was a shock to the system when he found himself involved in the first stage of this year’s Qualifying School, but, thanks to a birdie at his last hole at Bogogno in Italy just under a fortnight ago, he passed that test.
This week’s outing on the King’s Course at Gleneagles, where a £50,000 pot is on offer in the Tartan Tour’s flagship event, is timely with the second stage looming in Spain early next month.
“This season has been both hard but good,” said Doak, who finished fifth in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2014. “It’s been tough not playing as much as I have in the past, but the upside is that I’ve been able to spend some time with my wife Laura and our daughter, Eva.
“My coach, Alan McCloskey, has said it could be the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s given me time to reflect and make some necessary changes to my swing.
“Irrespective of the injury, that had to happen as I wasn’t good technically. Alan said it’s amazing how well I did. Now I feel I’m striking it better and have a game that will allow me to get closer to pins.”
Doak is among 11 past champions in a 69-strong field for the milestone event which gets underway today in Perthshire, the others being Gordon Law (1997), Greig Hutcheon (1999 and 2013), Alastair Forsyth (2000), Fraser Mann (2002), Chris Kelly (2003 and 2015), Craig Ronald (2004), Mark Loftus (2007), Jason McCreadie (2008), (2010), Graham Fox (2012) and Gareth Wright (2014).
“The fact this is the 100th staging is definitely an added incentive for everyone in the field,” admitted defending champion Kelly. “Gleneagles is a cracking venue and I am looking forward to playing there again. Hopefully it will be a good week for the players, the event’s new sponsor, M&H Logistics, and Gleneagles as well.”