Scotland’s amateur ranks are set to be severely depleted come the end of the year after the decisions by both Liam Johnston and Robert MacIntyre to join Connor Syme in turning professional.
Johnston, pictured below, the Scottish Stroke-Play champion from Dumfries, is launching his new career in this week’s Dunhill Links Championship, having secured an invitation along with man-of-the-moment Syme.
“I can’t thank the Dunhill Links organising committee and European Tour enough for giving me this opportunity to start my professional career in my home country in such a brilliant event around familiar courses,” said Johnston.
His opportunity has mainly been earned on the back of winning the African Amateur earlier this year at Leopard Creek, which is owned by Johann Rupert, the South African businessman and the man who started the long- running Dunhill event.
Syme, who tied for 12th on his professional debut in last month’s Portugal Masters, has also been joined in this week’s field at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns by Grant Forrest. The 24-year-old, who finished just outside the top 40 in the event 12 months ago when making his first start in the paid ranks, secured the final invitation, taking the Scottish contingent up to 10 players.
MacIntyre, meanwhile, has opted to use the MENA Tour to prepare for his crack at the European Tour Qualifying School rather than trying to join Syme and three more Walker Cup team-mates in this week’s event.
The 21-year-old left-hander from Glencruitten is competing in Jordan this week then Kuwait in a fortnight’s time, having felt it was worthwhile spending nearly three weeks either practising or playing in the Middle East.
“I’m sure I could have explored playing in a few European Tour events at the start of my pro career, but the route I’m taking is geared towards the Qualifying School, which is my main goal,” said MacIntyre, who was sitting 14th in the world amateur rankings.