Having seen two of his PGA peers, Paul Streeter and David Shacklady, hit the ground running in the over-50s ranks this season by landing maiden wins on the Staysure Tour, Greig Hutcheon already has one eye on that new chapter in his career starting in four years’ time.
In the meantime, he is aiming to continue making his presence felt on leaderboards on the Tartan Tour, as he’s done on a consistent basis in topping the Order of Merit on that circuit no less than seven occasions in the past 12 years.
It came as no real surprise, therefore, to see Hutcheon out in front at the halfway stage in the M&H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship, especially when the second round on the King’s Course at Gleneagles was played on one of those grinding days that so often bring out the best in the Banchory man.
Admittedly, a change in leadership was partly helped by Chris Kelly, who had started the day with a four-shot cushion after his opening 62 on Monday, finding out how quickly this game can bring you down to earth with a bang as a 76 saw him slip six behind.
Equally, though, it was also due to Hutcheon harnessing a testing west wind to card a six-under-par 64, an effort which almost produced a hole-in-one at the par-4 14th before he confidently rolled in an eight-footer at the last for a second eagle in five holes.
“I needed to post something with Chris starting well,” said Hutcheon, who is attached to Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, after a morning’s work that gave him an eight-under total and a one-shot lead over Newmachar’s Greg McBain in the circuit’s flagship tournament.
Hutcheon, a three-time winner on the Challenge Tour earlier in his career, first landed this title in 1999 before reclaiming the crown in 2013. He’s got his sights on joining the likes of John Panton, Eric Brown, Bernard Gallacher and Sam Torrance in claiming the prize three times or more.
“My hip yesterday was so tight. It’s just wear and tear. I’m 46 now. It’s just stretching now and Deep Heat on it. That’s all I can do. It was a wee bit better,” added the leader. “I’m looking forward to the challenge over the next two days. It’s nice to have a big event with good money. My wife has me as a part-time housemaid these days. She’s working a lot now. If I’m not golfing I’m doing house duties.
“I wouldn’t mind a wee dig at the Seniors. You look at guys like Paul Streeter and David Shacklady, who were PGA guys, and they’ve earned six figures. It shows what you can do. That’s something to aim for.”
McBain, who finished joint-second behind Kelly 12 months ago, is in the mix again after backing up his opening 66 with an equally satisfying 67 that contained six birdies. “I made some nice up and downs on 15, 16 and 17 to keep the score going,” he said. “I then made a birdie-4 out of the fairway bunker at the last, holing a 40-footer down the hill, so a finish like that is always good.”
Paul O’Hara, last year’s Order of Merit winner, made five birdies in his 66 to sit third on six-under, a shot ahead of Paul McKechnie, who bounced back from a double-bogey at the 13th with three birdies in the final five holes.