Grant Forrest: These are our two Majors
Lothians star Grant Forrest has been gearing up for two huge weeks on the European Tour, admitting: “These are our two majors this season.”
This week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and next week’s BMW PGA Championship are the two biggest events on the circuit since coming out of its Covid-19 lockdown at the end of July.
As Rolex Series events, they each carry $7 million prize funds, as well as a mountain of Race to Dubai points.
“It is a big step up in terms of field strength compared to the events so far since coming out of lockdown,” said Forrest, inset, of the tournaments until now having carried prize funds of either Euros 1 million or Euros 1.25 million.
“For the guys who are not getting into majors, these are our two majors this season. These are our biggest events since Qatar (in March) and there’s a lot at stake over the next couple of weeks in terms of points and in terms of where you are going to finish this year.”
Due to the 2020 being disrupted by the pandemic, it has been decided that players will retain their current status for next season. That means Forrest is heading into this week’s event at The Renaissance Club then next week at Wentworth with the equivalent of free spins of the wheel.
“I’ve had a few people at the golf asking me why I wasn’t playing in either Ireland or Portugal, but these next two weeks are massive,” he added. “If you play well in them, it almost makes the rest of the events insignificant, to be honest.
“We’ve been playing for 2,000 points so far since the circuit restart and now the next two weeks we are playing for 7,000 points in each one, so it’s been a case of trying to peak for these two weeks.”
On his debut in the event at the same venue, Forrest finished just outside the top 40 as Austrian Bernd Wiesberger tore the Tom Doak-designed course apart in benign conditions with a winning total of 22-under.
“The weather was a total fluke last year,” said Forrest, who lives in Haddington, of that low-scoring event. “If you’d played at Gullane,
if you’d played at Muirfield, if you’d played at Carnoustie, you’d probably have been 20-under in conditions like we had for this event last year.
“The key to links golf is the weather and we didn’t have anything to deal with here last year. I think we will see a different story this year.”
“The course has been opened up a bit by some trees being removed while there’s also a lot more rough. The fairways are narrower than last year, so that will put a bit more premium off the tee. The greens have been quite a bit firmer as well, which I think for The Renaissance Club is the big defence.
“Last year it almost didn’t really matter where the pins were because you could still get it close whereas most of the time I play there it can be really tough to get it close to pins. It will be a different test.”
Forrest, who is among a small group of players staying at home this week but having to self-isolate while they are there to remain part of the “bio-secure bubble”, added: “I’ve played a couple of times at Archerfield in the build up to this week, but I’ve been
at The Renaissance more actually.
“I’m pretty much based here now. Jerry [Sarvadi, the CEO] is very good to us touring pros and let’s use it almost as if we are members and, with me living close by, it is really handy. I’ve been here quite a few times in recent weeks.
“I had a good bit of momentum going back in January and February before the season stopped and I’ve not played particularly well since we started up again. But these two weeks are good opportunities to kick-start things again.”
Forrest is among 15 Scots in the field, with top-ranked home player Bob MacIntyre heading into the event with a new caddie in Fifer Mike Thomson.
Irishman Greg Milne was at MacIntyre’s side as he progressed from the Challenge Tour to the European Tour Rookie of the Year last
But the 24-year-old left-hander from Oban has decided to make a change in a bid to take his career to the next level.
“It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” said MacIntyre, who is in the marquee group with world No.17 Tommy Fleetwood a and defending champion Bernd Wiesberger for the first two rounds.
“But it’s my job and my business. If I don’t perform, I’ve not got a job. At the end of the day, it’s my job that’s on the line, so I just felt like it was something that I needed to do to just try and take the next step.
“I’m at a level or a stage in my career that I can go two ways; you can either go back into the pack or you can take off and get into the top 50 in the world, top 30s.
“That’s obviously where I want to be. I don’t want to be just in a pack. I want to be a standout. I want to be up there competing in majors.”
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