Blairgowrie’s Gregor Graham is well in touch after Scottish amateur golf’s long awaited return to national competition at the Scottish Men’s Amateur Open at Southerness in the drizzly deep South West yesterday.
Scottish Golf’s main events have been abeyance for over a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. All national championships were cancelled during 2020 and some delayed earlier this year because remaining restrictions.
The acclaimed MacKenzie Ross course on the Solway Firth is hosting the first championship to be played since 2019.
‘It was so much fun, playing again’
Graham, the 17-year-old from the Rosemount club, made an ideal start with a two-under 67. A final birdie at the long 18th correcting a couple of dropped shots on the short holes on the back nine.
“It was a good start,” said the Scotland squad player. “I was just trying to get into the tournament really, give myself a chance to get on the leaderboard. My driving was really good, hit a lot of fairways and gave myself lots of chances.
“It was so much fun, I enjoyed it so much, just to be able to get out in a competition and playing again. It’s been tough for a while not playing but it’s been great to get back into it. Today was a little drizzly at times, but not too bad conditions for links.”
As part of the Performance development group of young talent in Scottish Golf, Gregor has been one of the players personally mentored by former Open champion Paul Lawrie.
Scottish Golf has secrured both Lawrie and Catriona Matthew to help the development of young players in their senior and junior squads. Gregor has already been taking advantage of it.
— Scottish Golf (@ScottishGolf) May 27, 2021
“It’s been massive to be involved with Paul,” he said. “We even had a couple of invites to play in the Tartan Pro Tour and got to actually play with him in one of those events as well.
“That was so good to learn from. He never seems to do anything wrong, it’s just `hit fairway and hit greens’. He seems to always be in the right spot.
“He’s great with just the little tips as well. He’s helped me massively with my putting and my short game.”
Newcastle’s Wilson has the first round lead
James Wilson, from the Close House club near Newcastle where Lee Westwood is attached, set a flying pace on the first day with a seven-under 62. He had eight birdies and just one dropped shot at the short fourth.
Ayrshire’s Stuart Easton, back home from Western Kentucky University, was the best placed Scot in a share of second place with former Manchester United youth player Callan Barrow. The Royal Lytham and St Annes player was the runner up in last year’s English Amateur.
Lothians champion and elite squad player Connor Wilson is on four-under, three off the lead. Graham’s clubmate Cormac Sharpe is among those on level par.