Ten Scots seeking South African Open glory in Johannesburg

Scotland's Scott Jamieson. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Scotland's Scott Jamieson. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Nine years after Richie Ramsay claimed the title, a 10-strong Scottish contingent is chasing glory in the South African Open Championship in Johannesburg.

The sizeable posse has congregated at Randpark for the third event on the 2019 European Tour schedule after travelling from various destinations. For David Drysdale, Grant Forrest, Liam Johnston and Doug McGuigan, the journey was just under 2,000 miles from Mauritius, where they all played last week.

It was a 7,000-mile journey from Queensland and the Australian PGA Championship, meanwhile, for Bob MacIntyre, Connor Syme, Ewen Ferguson and Duncan Stewart.

And, having been in East Lothian at the weekend to attend Oli Fisher’s wedding, both Scott Jamieson and Marc Warren clocked up close to 6,000 miles to start their new campaigns.

Jamieson, pictured, a winner in South Africa 2013, is playing in his first event since becoming a father for the third time just before the end of the 2018 campaign, which saw him hang on to his card for a ninth successive season.

Warren, meanwhile, will be hoping to take up where he left off when finishing strongly to end up in the top 20 at the Qualifying School in Spain last month. Drysdale got the new season off to a promising start for the Scots when he claimed fifth spot in Hong Kong before Forrest finished seventh in Mauritius – his first top-10 on the circuit.

While keeping his feet firmly on the ground, the 25-year-old from North Berwick is keen to back up that effort in either this event or next week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, also in South Africa. “I will hopefully keep playing well and another top 10 would be really nice going into Christmas,” he said.

Achieving that this weekend could see Forrest or any of the other Scots secure a spot in next year’s Open Championship, with places at Royal Portrush up for grabs to the top three not already exempt in the top 10. Brandon Stone, winner of the Scottish Open at Gullane in July, is one of only six players in the field already exempt for what will be the final major of 2019, the others being Ernie Els, Dimitrios Papadatos, Shaun Norris, Louis Oosthuizen and Matt Wallace.

Englishman Chris Paisley defends the title in a bumper field that also includes Masters champions Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel, as well as Branden Grace, George Coetzee and Jovan Rebula, winner of the Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen earlier this year.