Nothing to lose and lots to gain. That’s the view being shared by Scottish amateur duo Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson as they take on the pros over the next two weeks.
The Walker Cup team-mates are in the fields for the Turkish Airlines Challenge, which starts in Belek today, and next week’s Montecchia Open in Italy.
They’ve secured invitations through their new management company, Bounce Sports, and have the chance to pick up points towards a ranking next season under a change on the Challenge Tour this season.
“The worst case scenario for me this week is getting some experience of playing in a Challenge Tour event,” said Craigielaw man Forrest. “But, if you play well, it’s a chance to pick up some ranking points that you can take forward to next year.”
Referring to his conqueror in the final of the Amateur Championship at Carnoustie last June, the 22-year-old added: “Just look at Romain Langasque.
“He finished second in the first event of the season and has since finished fifth, so he is already in good stead for next year.”
Ferguson, the 2013 British Boys’ champion from Bearsden, is equally excited about the chance to see if he can emulate the Frenchman.
“My first priority is to try and make the cut then kick on from there as it is great that points that amateurs pick up now count towards a ranking for the following season,” said the 19-year-old. “That is massive as it means you are playing for more than experience.”
While Ferguson and Forrest may be in the minority among eight amateurs in a 156-strong field, they’ve come across plenty of familiar faces on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.
“It is quite strange because there are so many guys here - the likes of Dominic Foos and Pep Angles, for example - I know from playing amateur golf who have now turned pro,” observed Ferguson. “I think that helps you feel comfortable in this environment.”
The duo also have four of their Great Britain & Ireland team-mates from last September’s Walker Cup win at Royal Lytham for company, including Barassie’s Jack McDonald.
“Jack and I were saying yesterday that it’s an eclectic mix from amateur golf over the past few years,” said Forrest. “There’s a few guys from the Walker Cup as well, which is nice.”
The Lothians man comes into this event in good spirit, having followed up a win in the Battle Trophy at Crail by finishing joint-fifth in the Lytham Trophy last weekend.
“I have worked really hard on my game over the last six weeks with my coach, Jonathan Porteous, and it paid off, so hopefully I can keep it rolling on,” said Forrest.
“I’ve found some consistency, which is pleasing. It’s been really tough weather conditions in my last two tournaments, but my worst score has been 74.”
His decision to take some time off after a hectic start to the year culminated in a Bonallack Trophy appearance for Europe in Portugal has also proved to be a smart move.
“I was exhausted after the Bonallack Trophy,” he admitted. “It is so easy to overdo things and it was only April, so it was right to take a break when I did. There’s so many events and you can’t play in all of them.”
Ferguson was forced to miss out on title defences in both the Scottish Champion of Champions and the Craigmillar Park Open due to a pinkie injury. On his comeback, he missed the cut by one shot in the Lytham Trophy but wasn’t too disheartened by that outcome.
“I played well,” he said, “I just made a couple of mistakes by going for greens when I shouldn’t have but I put that down to rust more than anything after not playing in a while due to my injury.”
He’s hoping that a course he likens to Blairgowrie will suit his game this week. “Driving is the key here and that is usually my strength so here’s hoping I can have a good week,” said Ferguson
If it’s not to be the Euroepan Tour by then, both Forrest and Ferguson are hoping appearances on the Challenge Tour will be a regular occurence in a year’s time as professionals.
“Being here definitely whets your appetite,” said Forrest. “It is not too much different from the top of the anateur circuit but being in among it makes you want to be here.
“Seeing Duncan Stewart win in Madrid last weekend also has to be good for the rest of the Scottish guys, especially when he took advantage of an invitation.”