Open gives Gareth Wright ‘belief’

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HAVING both cut it at a higher level over the past few weeks, Greig Hutcheon and Gareth Wright could be the men to beat in the £50,000 Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship, which has an afternoon start tomorrow on the King’s Course.

Hutcheon, runner-up behind Graham Fox in the Tartan Tour’s flagship event at the Perthshire venue 12 months ago, marked two rare starts on the European Tour by making the cut in both the PGA Championship at Wentworth and the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

The current Tartan Tour No 1 is favourite to reclaim a title he won in 1999, though Wright is also in buoyant mood after the West Linton-attached Welshman played in all four rounds at Muirfield last week on his Open Championship debut. “Playing in a major and making the cut shows you’ve got the game to play with the best of them and hopefully I can take a bit of belief from last week,” said Wright, second to Chris Doak in this event at the same venue three years ago.

“I like it up at Gleneagles and it suits my game. It will be nice to have wider fairways than we had at Muirfield and I’ll certainly be going there with a bit of confidence. It will be a bit of a come down after The Open in terms of crowds, but I’ll be treating it exactly the same way.”

Fox, who holed a ten-foot eagle putt at the 72nd hole to finish a shot ahead of Hutcheon last year, defends his title, with Gordon Law (1997), Chris Kelly (2003), Craig Ronald (2004), Mark Loftus (2007), Jason McCreadie (2008) and David Orr (2009) also lining up as former winners.

The event features a woman for only the third time after Gullane’s Emma Fairnie came through one of the qualifiers to follow Meg Farquhar (1933) and Heather MacRae (2009).

“We are all looking forward to the week,” said Brian Mair, Secretary of the PGA in Scotland. “Gleneagles is looking magnificent and I am sure the King’s Course will prove, yet again, to be a great test for the players.”