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Dunhill Links: Ewen Ferguson shows he belongs with his pals as he leads all Scots at the Old Course

Ewen Ferguson is the third Scot to win in Qatar.

Three weeks after he was lying in bed for 10 days with a bad case of Covid-19, Ewen Ferguson is setting about joining the new wave of Scottish golf on the European Tour at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

It’s been a great year for the young Scots, with Robert MacIntyre playing in all four majors and top tens in the Open and Masters, plus wins from Grant Forrest and Calum Hill and a continued advance from Connor Syme.

Ferguson was supposed to be the one of that generation with the star quality. He had a prominent role in a Walker Cup win in 2015, but it’s taken him longer to get to the main tour.

‘I kept getting positive results’

He’ll be there for sure in 2022, thanks to a solid and consistent Challenge Tour campaign. But a 65 to start the Dunhill at the Old Course could help provide a quicker route, just a few weeks after his Covid bout.

“I went to the Dutch tournament in late August and I just knew it,” recalled the Bearsden boy. “I wasn’t due to test that day but I did. And I kept getting positive results.

“I lay in my room for 10 days with it. The first four days I didn’t want to get out of bed. One minutes it was the sweats, the next I was freezing. It was crazy.”

All the time, rivals were catching him on the Challenge Tour standings, but he secure dhis card immediately he came back – allowing him the treat of playing in the Dunhill.

“It’s a free week for me so I’m just enjoying it, seeing what I can do,” he said. “It’s just so great to be playing here. Every time you’re in St Andrews it feels so special.

“My mum and dad have a lodge nearby and it’s really nice. I have been staying there, but when the family came up I got kicked out so now I’m in a caravan. The rain battering on the roof woke me up this morning.

“It would unbelievable to win here, a dream come true, but there’s a long way to go. Hopefully, one day.”

‘I’m really enjoying seeing the guys’

He’s played the Old Course plenty, often with his good friends.

“I played the Links Trophy a few times, played with Connor and Bob a few times for fun, so maybe 15 or 20 times,” he said.

“What I am really enjoying is turning up this week and seeing Calum and playing with Bob and Connor and Grant.

“The first thing they said to me was I’m playing great this year and they’ve been checking my results. It’s so nice having that.

“They could have been snide and made out they hadn’t noticed. But nothing has changed with us. We were having longest drive competitions and nearest the pin. They are a great bunch and this is where I also want to be.”

The only thing missing from his Challenge Tour resume is a win, although he’s been close a bunch of times.

“I’ve finished second three times, on in a play-off, and also third, fourth and fifth,” he said. “I think I’ve been trying too hard to get it done the last three or four holes. But I know my game is in a good place and I’m doing right things and if keep doing that it will come.”

Bob gets reward from a round at last

Bob hits his approach at Carnoustie’s great 18th.

He outplayed all his old mates on the first day at least. MacIntyre’s 69 at Carnoustie was well acceptable for the toughest course of the three, with rain and winds up to 25 mph due on Friday and Saturday.

The main field at Carnoustie only had those kind of conditions for five holes.

“I hit a driver up two that went just 220 yards, and that was right out of the middle,” said Bob..” Just praying that the weather was going to ease up, and it did. I really thought we were going to get done at the start. Thankfully it cleared up.

“Three-under at Carnoustie on any day is really good. I finally feel I got something out of a round. That’s what’s been missing.”

Richie Ramsay and David Law led a two-pronged attack on Kingsbarns with a 67 (-5) and 68 (-4) respectively, Connor Syme and Stephen Gallacher also dipped under par at the most southerly course.

Hill and Forrest, both playing at Carnoustie, had one over 73s.

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