Promising weekend for Scottish golfers on pro and amateur fronts

Grant Forrest tied for fifth at the Turkish Airlines Challenge. Picture: SNS
Grant Forrest tied for fifth at the Turkish Airlines Challenge. Picture: SNS
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Pamela Pretswell, Grant Forrest and Bradley Neil all rounded off promising performances in the pro ranks as Connor Syme and Shannon McWilliam shone in the amateur game on the most encouraging weekend of the year so far for Scottish golf.

It’s often said that Scots save their worst efforts in events for a Sunday, but that was certainly not the case with Pretswell as the 27-year-old closed with a four-under-par 67 at Club de Golf Terramar, near Barcelona, to finish joint-fifth in the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open.

Pretswell’s best performance since finishing second in the Tipsport Masters in the Czech Republic came in just her third outing in 2017, the €10,050 pay-day getting the former Curtis Cup player up and running as she attempts to be Scotland’s leading light on the circuit for the third season in a row.

England’s Florentyna 
Parker landed the spoils in Sitges, closing with a 66 to get into a play-off with Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Spaniard Carlota Ciganada before 
winning with a birdie on the fourth extra hole.

The Turkish Airlines Challenge also produced an English winner – Ryan Evans clinching his breakthrough win on the circuit in style with a four-shot success – but the performances of both Forrest and Neil at Gloria Golf in Belek were heartening from a 
Scottish perspective. In his second start as a professional on the European Tour’s development circuit, Forrest finished tied for fifth, backing up the excellent start he made to life in the paid ranks when he ended up just outside the top 40 in the Dunhill Links Championship last October.

This latest eye-catching effort can be the springboard for the 23-year-old to make his presence felt in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman this season, with 21-year-old Neil also having boosted his confidence enormously early on in the battle for European Tour cards by tying for 11th in Turkey.

On the European Tour, Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay finished alongside each other in joint-21st in the Shenzhen International, which saw Austrian Bernd Wiesberger beat Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off after the Englishman had stormed through the field with a closing 62.

On the amateur front, 
Drumoig’s Syme boosted his Walker Cup prospects with a wire-to-wire win in the Battle Trophy at Crail. Last year’s Australian Amateur champion took a ten-shot lead into the final round, having opened with scores of 68-68-70 on the testing Craighead course, and he still won comfortably – by five shots from Clydebank & District’s Steven Maxwell – despite a closing 79.

Over on the west coast, McWilliam gave an excellent account of herself for the second time in three years in the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Stroke-Play Championship. Swede Linn Grant emerged as a worthy winner in Ayrshire after closing with a 71 on Royal Troon to finish five shots clear of the field.

However, McWilliam 
finished a gallant second, one better than two years ago, and the 17-year-old from Aboyne can return in 12 months’ time 
feeling quietly confident that she can be in with a real chance of becoming the first Scot to claim this coveted title since Heather Stirling back in 2002.