Grant Forrest recorded his first top-10 finish on the European Tour after producing a strong weekend display to claim a share of seventh spot in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, won by American Kurt Kitayama.
Closing scores of 65 and 68 on the Ernie Els-designed Anihata course lifted Forrest nearly 40 spots over the final 36 holes as the 25-year-old from North Berwick ended with a 14-under-par 274 total.
The excellent effort earned Forrest, one of the four new Scottish card holders on the circuit this season, a cheque for just over £21,000, leaving him sitting 15th in the Race to Dubai after he started the 2019 campaign by tying for 36th in the Hong Kong Open.
“It definitely makes it less stressful going into the new year if you can get some points up on the board in the Race to Dubai,” admitted Forrest, pictured, as he reflected on his best finish in 16 starts in total on the European Tour.
“I didn’t play that great last week but managed to scrape through the cut. I didn’t get anything going really at the weekend, but it was a solid start. This week, the first two rounds were a bit ropey again, but I played really well at the weekend.
“I put myself in a bit of a tough position going into the last few holes on Friday but I birdied the ninth – my last hole – to make the cut by two. To finish seventh after that was brilliant.”
Forrest, who earned his step up to the main circuit by finishing seventh on the Challenge Tour money-list this year, carded an eagle and 10 birdies in the last two rounds, dropping just one shot. “The course this week was quite wide open and I gave myself a lot of chances in the final two rounds while on Saturday I putted really nicely,” he added.
“To be honest, I also got a bit lucky being out early in the third round as the wind direction made the back nine a lot easier. I heard a few guys who were out later in the day saying the last five or six holes were playing a lot longer than when I played them earlier in the day. You obviously have to take advantage of a break like that and I was delighted that I did that.
“Today I played really solid. I gave myself a lot of chances. It was pretty stress-free. I had just one three-putt on the 16th – that was the only slip. It was nice to finish with a birdie, making a five or six-footer, which turned out to be quite an important putt to get me a share of seventh spot.”
As Californian 25-year-old Kitayama, a Qualifying School graduate, secured his maiden victory with a two-shot success, David Drysdale ended a disappointing weekend in 65th spot after closing rounds of 79 and 75 for a five-over-par total.
Also on the European Tour, Craig Ross slipped 32 spots on the final day to end up in joint-52nd as home player Cam Smith successfully defended the title in the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort in Queensland. Ross, who was making his pro debut on the circuit, picked up a cheque for £3,250.