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Paul Lawrie relaunches the Scottish Challenge in 2022 as ‘the most important thing we’ve done’

1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie has been hugely influential in Scottish golf.

Paul Lawrie’s regeneration of the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge at Newmachar in 2022 is “the most important thing we’ve done” in helping develop Scottish golf, according to the Aberdeen golfing icon.

The former Open champion’s latest move to promote the game in Scotland and specifically his native north-east is to bring back the Challenge Tour, the DP World Tour’s developmental circuit, from May 26-29 next year.

He considers this to be the most important thing he’s done, above running his own European Tour event in the past, involvement in the Seniors, and the last two years successfully establishing his own mini-circuit, the Tartan Pro Tour.

A crucial stepping stone

“The previous Scottish Challenge run by Bounce (the Scottish management group) did an incredible job getting out players onto the main Tour,” said Lawrie.

“It’s been missing for a couple of years and we’ve been working on this for a wee while. It’s important we have it for the progression of players from mini tours to get their opportunity to get on to the main Tour.

“We did enjoy having the matchplay event on the main tour for three years. But this is the most important event that we’ve ever done.”

It’s a crucial stepping stone for young players to get a foothold on the ladder up to the DP World Tour, he said.

“This event gives the chance for the boys who are trying to step up,” continued Lawrie. “Without that, it’s really, really tough to get there. Even on the mini tours, I’ve seen myself, the standard is off the scale.

“We’re just trying to make it a little easier for Scots boys we feel have the ability to crack on and get themselves to play at a higher level.”

Event’s influence on current crop of Scottish Tour pros

The event had been central to the current crop of young Scots playing on the European Tour, Lawrie said.

“Bob MacIntyre, Grant Forrest, Calum Hill, Davie Law… all these boys used the invites from this to the Challenge Tour, to get on the main tour and win. That tells you everything.

“That’s not to say they wouldn’t have got there anyway, because they’ve all got the ability. But this event certainly helped them and it’s incredibly important for young Scottish pros.

“Bounce did a wonderful job over those years. It’s now our job to continue that and get as many Scots lads on the main tour as possible.”

The legacy of the Scottish Challenge has been the best crop of Scots on the main tour in decades, believes Paul.

“I mentioned a few years ago that we had six or seven players who were capable of winning at main Tour level. Now they are all doing it,” he said.

“We have got enough talent in this country. I have no doubt about that and the current crop are all doing great.

“They are feeding off each other. You can read it and you can see it. They seem quite pally, but there’s a competitiveness and they all want to beat each other.

“That’s something you want. That’s something I always had. Stephen Gallacher, Marc Warren, Monty, all the boys were pally, but we wanted to win when we played each other in the tournaments.”

Farmfoods and Newmachar are long-time supporters

Lawrie has hosted the Scottish Seniors in the last couple of years.

Long-time Lawrie supporter Farmfoods will be the main sponsor. Newmachar has proved a quality venue for his Foundation and for EuroPro events.

“Farmfoods have been fantastic as ever,” said Paul. “The support from Eric Herd has been amazing for us.

“Obviously we’re extremely grateful to Newmachar for allowing us to play at a fantastic venue with two great courses.

“We need one of those courses for the whole week. So for them to give us the clubhouse and facilities is a big ask. It’s great news we can play it in Aberdeen in the first year.

“We’ve only done a one-year thing at the moment, see how it goes. But I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to keep it going and progress it.”