Grant Forrest is heading into this week’s SSE Scottish Challenge in Aviemore on a high after moving into the top ten in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah rankings following a strong finish in the Hauts de France Open.
For the second time this season, Forrest got himself into a play-off on the second-tier circuit and, though he was denied a maiden victory again after coming within inches of lifting the trophy as his 45-foot putt burned the edge at the second extra hole, it was another eye-catching effort for the ever-improving Scot.
A month after being pipped by compatriot Liam Johnston in the Andalucia – Costa del Sol Match Play 9, the Craigielaw player knocked at the door once more before losing out at the third extra hole to Welshman Stuart Manley at Saint Omer Golf Club.
The pair had finished tied for top spot on six-under, a shot ahead of Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and home player Mathieu Fenasse, after Forrest, who turns 25 tomorrow, stormed to the turn in four under en route to a closing 68.
The effort earned Forrest a cheque for €19,800, lifting him to seventh in the rankings with 53,807 points, giving him a solid platform in his bid to step up to the European Tour next season by finishing in the top 15. “Would have been great to get my first Challenge Tour win on Fathers Day but another second place so onwards and upwards,” he wrote afterwards on Twitter.
Meanwhile, three years after Forrest reached the final in the event at Carnoustie, Stonehaven’s Sam Locke and Sandy Scott of Nairn are among the leading home hopefuls in this week’s 123rd Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen and Mucrar Links.
Locke, the Scottish champion, completed his preparations by playing part of a practice round under the watchful eye of Paul Lawrie, while Scott will be hoping to reproduce the form that saw him card a 66 on the Old Course in last weekend’s St Andrews Links Trophy. Players from no less than 38 countries are on the 288-strong field for two rounds of stroke-play qualfying, with the top 64 and ties progressing to the match-play phase at Royal Aberdeen.
Hopefuls include Spaniard Alejandro Larrzabal, who is bidding to regain a title he landed in 2002 after being reinstated to the amateur ranks, while the highest-ranked player in the field is world No 5 Viktor Hovland, a 21-year-old Norwegian who plays his college golf at Oklahoma State.