The Tartan Pro Tour reaches the climax of its third campaign at Carnoustie, where 60 players will battle it out over two rounds on the Championship Course at the Angus venue on Wednesday and Thursday for an approximate £20,000 prize pot.
Spirits will be high in an event backed by Angus Soft Fruits due to the fact it’s been another fantastic season on the circuit, which was set up by Paul Lawrie in 2020 to provide playing opportunities for full-time Scottish golfers during the Covid pandemic.
Twelve events have already been held in 2022, with visits being made to Blairgowrie, Montrose, Royal Dornoch, Barassie Links, Dundonald Links, Pollok, Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, St Andrews, Ladybank, Leven Links, The Renaissance Club and Panmure.
All the fields have been well supported, with players appreciating the opportunities being provided for them on home soil by Lawrie and also for the way they are run by Michael MacDougall, Reece Mitchell, Michael Lawrie and other members of the Five Star Sports Agency team.
It takes time and effort, as well, of course, as valuable backing from sponsors, to deliver any tour and Lawrie and his team can certainly be proud of what has been created on Scottish soil in a short period of time.
‘Developing Scottish Talent’ is the Tartan Pro Tour’s slogan and the Carnoustie line up really does illustrate how that is totally appropriate because it’s jam-packed with players who have already made a mark at a higher level or just need that break to really kick on.
It includes, for instance, Louise Duncan, who is returning to the venue where she produced a stunning performance as an amateur to tie for tenth in the 2021 AIG Women’s Open. Now in the professional ranks, the West Kilbride woman is gearing up for the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School later in the year and joins the likes of Kylie Henry, Michele Thomson and Hannah McCook in taking on the men on the Tartan Pro Tour.
Her rivals include former Walker Cup player Jack McDonald, who is the first player to win three times in the same season on the circuit following successes at Blairgowrie, Royal Dornoch and Panmure, as well as a resurgent Graeme Robertson and Sam Locke, who won the Silver Medal as leading amateur in the 2018 Open at Carnoustie.
With their Challenge Tour campaigns now finished, Bradley Neil and Calum Fyfe are also teeing up, as are the Graham brothers - Connor and Gregor - as well as another exciting young Scottish amateur, Callum Bruce. Oh, and the field also includes Sam Westwood, Lee’s son.
Over at Lough Erne near Enniskillen, meanwhile, it’s literally the end of the road for the PGA EuroPro Tour as the third-tier circuit stages a Tour Championship as its final event before being scrapped after a 20-year run.
That is sure to make for a somewhat sombre occasion, but, carrying a prize fund of just over £100,000, the 54-hole event starting on Wednesday and running over three days is a chance for lots of players to go out with a real bang.
It’s already job done for one Scot, Michael Stewart, in respect of the season-long goal. Helped by a win on the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Leven Links, he sits second behind England’s James Allan on the money-list and is already guaranteed to be among five players stepping up to the Challenge Tour next season.
But, at the same time, the former Scottish Amateur champion will still have his sights on a top prize of £25,000 while either a second or third-place finish could also see him jump above Allan in the end-of-season standings.
It’s win or bust, meanwhile, for the other Scots in the 50-player field, with Jeff Wright sitting 20th on £9,363 followed by Chris Maclean (£5,360), Stuart McLaren (£4,663), James Wilson (£4,387), Greg Dalziel (£4,236), Stuart Easton (£3,825) and Sean Lawrie (£3,039).