Having passed her first test with flying colours since returning to competitive action following cancer surgery, Heather MacRae is raring to go in this week’s Scottish PGA Championship at Downfield.
The 35-year-old teamed up with former European Tour player Craig Lee in last week’s Golfbreaks.com PGA Fourball Championship at Farleigh, where they opened with rounds of 63 and 60 to sit handily-placed before slipping to joint 15th following a closing 72.
“Last week was amazing,” said MacRae, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March and had surgery in mid-June, only a few days after winning the Women’s PGA Championship for the second time.
“I went down not knowing if I’d be able to play 18 holes and, after making 14 birdies in the first two days, it was a miserable drive home wishing we had performed better the last day.”
Now MacRae is looking forward to her next test as the Tartan Tour’s flagship event takes place at Downfield for just the second time after an unbroken run of 20 years at Gleneagles. “I wasn’t planning on playing the SPGA as the qualifying was scheduled for August 12, which I wasn’t fit to play by, but when they extended the field size, I entered and thought I’d make a decision after the PGA Fourball,” she added.
“I’m actually amazed how good I felt after the three rounds, so I’m absolutely going to play this week. I don’t have huge expectations in relation to how I fare in the field.
“But seeing what I was able to do last week I just want to put in a good performance by my own standards and see where it leaves me.
“I was working with the women’s team at the Home Internationals at Downfield a few weeks ago, so although I haven’t had time to play a practice round, I do know the course pretty well.
“I have 100 per cent thrown myself back Into work since I felt fit enough and working for myself now – Heather MacRae Golf – gives me the flexibility to coach at several locations, while still being able to play a little and do a few other golf days/events etc.
“I am really enjoying coaching so many girls and introducing more people to the game while still having a strong appetite to compete.”
Lee is also in the 132-strong line up at the Dundee venue, where the title is being defended by Greig Hutcheon after the Torphins Golf Club-attached player claimed the coveted prize for the third time last year.
Others in the field include Alastair Forsyth (Mearns Castle Golf Academy), Chris Doak (Renaissance Club), Chris Kelly (Scotland for Golf), Paul O’Hara (North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd), Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf) and Thomas Higson (Gleneagles Hotel).
Bidding to add this title to his Northern Open win at Newmachar earlier in the year, Forsyth will be relishing a return to Downfield after carding an 11-under-par 62 there in a pro-am in 2016, trimming three shots off the previous professional course record held by Paul Lawrie and Andrew Crerar.
Uphall’s Gordon Law, the winner on that previous visit to this venue in 1997, is also in the line up, as is Drumoig Golf Centre’s Stuart Syme, dad of Challenge Tour player Connor.
The top 40 and ties after the opening two rounds qualifying for the final 36 holes on Thursday and Friday.