Strong field launches Optical Express Tour

A FIELD that would have been fitting for the Scottish Championship will tee off at Dundonald Links today in the first Optical Express tournament being played under the PGA banner.

The decision to hand over the reins for the six events to the PGA has quickly paid dividends.

European Tour players Craig Lee and Steven O’Hara are joined in the 54-holer by a clutch of Challenge Tour card holders, including Chris Doak, Andrew McArthur, Jack Doherty and Callum Macaulay.

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Former PGA champion Andrew Oldcorn, who is warming up for the start of his European Senior Tour campaign, is also playing in Ayrshire, where the Tartan Tour contingent is spearheaded by Stephen Gray, last year’s Order of Merit winner.

It also includes Greig Hutcheon, David Patrick, Paul McKechnie, Scott Henderson and Gareth Wright. The only notable absentee is Scottish PGA champion Alan Lockhart, who is preparing for his wedding next week.

The list of non-PGA players is equally strong, with Wallace Booth, Ross Kellett and Kris Nicol among those testing themselves against more seasoned professionals.

Booth, a member of Scotland’s Eisenhower Trophy-winning team four years ago, makes a long-awaited return to competition after hardly being able to play for the past two years due to a niggling shoulder injury.

“One aim of the Tour is to provide an opportunity for young Scots, who have yet to establish themselves on a European stage, to play in high quality professional events without having to travel across Europe to do so,” said a spokesman for the PGA in Scotland. “The field for this first tournament shows every indication that this will be achieved.”