Local nous helps Grieve to shine at Duddingston

scott Grieve, a two-times Duddingston junior champion, returned to his old stomping ground yesterday to make his presence felt in the opening round of the latest PGA Optical Express Tour event.

On a day when the majority of players in the field were singing the praises of the Edinburgh course – both in terms of its layout and condition – Grieve produced a flawless five-under-par 67 to sit in a four-way share of second place, one shot behind pacesetter Greig Hutcheon.

“This is my first competitive round of the year, but I was a junior member here so know the course well,” said the 30-year-old Turnhouse club professional, who illuminated his splendid effort with three birdies in a row from the seventh then added two more on the back nine – at the 12th and 16th.

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While some of his rivals in the field headed for the host club’s practice area after their rounds to prepare for today’s second and final circuit, Grieve didn’t have that luxury. “I need to get back to the shop at Turnhouse this afternoon,” he added.

Despite the fact he’d never clapped eyes on the Capital course before, Hutcheon navigated his way round it impeccably as he secured a narrow advantage over Grieve, West Linton’s Gareth Wright, Stephen Gray from Hayston and Ross Cameron (Saltire Energy).

“It’s a beautiful old course and it sets itself out in front of you – I really enjoyed it,” said the 2010 Tartan Tour No 1 from Banchory after coming home in four-under 31, including birdie-2s at both the tenth and 14th holes. “I played nicely, but it might take another 66 to get the job done as there’s a sizeable group of players breathing down my neck.”

Wright, winner at Dundonald Links in the first event on the PGA Optical Express schedule this season, finished birdie-birdie to keep his spirits high, the Edinburgh-based Welshman having come through a play-off at Brunstfield Links on Monday to advance to next week’s local final qualifying for The Open.

Gray, last year’s Tartan Tour No 1, also finished strongly – he birdied the 16th and 18th – while Cameron signed for eight birdies, including five in six holes from the fourth, as he, too, tucked himself in behind the leader.

Among the others lurking close to Hutcheon are former Walker Cup player David Patrick – another winner on the circuit already this year – on 69 and Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick, a further shot back. Fresh from securing a top-20 finish in the Scottish Challenge in Aviemore, Fenwick stormed to the turn in an “effortless” five-under and was disappointed he let a couple of those shots slip on the back nine.

Playing in the same group, former Ryder Cup player Ronan Rafferty and long-time Tartan Tour No 1 Russell Weir shot matching 77s.