Martin Dempster: Forrest and Johnston maintain feelgood factor

Liam Johnston, Grant Forrest and Connor Syme have all been flying the flag with aplomb in recent weeks. Picture: Getty.
Liam Johnston, Grant Forrest and Connor Syme have all been flying the flag with aplomb in recent weeks. Picture: Getty.
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Another week, another step or two forward for Scottish golf. Grant Forrest finishing second in a Challenge Tour event in China and Liam Johnston winning the Pro Golf Tour Qualifying School has certainly added to a growing feelgood factor sparked by Marc Warren and Connor Syme in recent weeks.

Forrest will now join Bradley Neil in the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Oman at the beginning of next month and that’s exactly what we’ve been wanting to see for a good few years. Two of our most-promising young amateurs in recent times –Neil is 21 and Forrest 24 – involved at the business end in the second-tier circuit’s season-long battle for 15 European Tour cards.

Neil, who is on course to claim one of those coveted cards through sitting 13th in the Road to Oman, deserves huge credit for the way he has recovered from a real struggle at the start of his professional career, while Forrest has been very impressive in his first full season in the paid ranks.

Like Syme, he got his professional career off to a great start a year ago and has now chalked up three top-five finishes this season on the 
Challenge Tour. The Craigielaw player has developed a knack of being able to recover from setbacks and did it again to finish strongly in the Hainan Open following a double-bogey early on in his back nine in the final round on Sunday.

His career is certainly moving in the right direction and, by the looks of things, Johnston has been similarly unfazed about that switch to the paid ranks. The Dumfries man already had a spring in his step through finishing in the top 50 in the Dunhill Links on his pro debut and has now backed that up by beating a strong field to secure the top card on the third-tier ProGolf Tour.

With the past weekend having also seen Warren maintain his great run of form with a third top-10 finish in four weeks, Richie Ramsay staying on course to make next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event, David Drysdale picking up another big Rolex Series cheque and Colin Montgomerie winning again on the Champions Tour, things really are starting to look up again for Scottish golf and long may that continue.