Friday, October 14, 2016

Kelly's eye on successful Scottish PGA title   
defence at Gleneagles
Chris Kelly is relishing the opportunity to become the first player in more than 25 years to win the M and H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship two years in a row when the event's 100th staging gets underway at Gleneagles on Monday.
The 39-year-old bridged a 13-year gap when he claimed the title for a second time a year past May at the same venue, beating Paul McKechnie in a play-off, and is now trying to achieve a feat last pulled off by Ross Drummond in 1989-1990.
"I must already be the longest-running Scottish PGA champion," joked
Kelly, who is attached to Taymouth Castle Estate, of having to wait more than 12 months to defend the coveted crown on the King's Course.

"Winning the event last year was probably better than my first victory back in 2003 as I thought successes like that had passed me by. I had also put a lot of effort into last season so it was good to see that rewarded with both my Scottish PGA Championship and Northern Open victories.
"The fact this is the 100th staging is definitely an added incentive for everyone in the field. Gleneagles is a cracking venue and I am looking forward to playing there again and hopefully it will be a good week for the players, the event's new sponsor, M and H Logistics, and Gleneagles as well."
Kelly is among 11 past champions in a 66-strong field, the others being Gordon Law (1997), Greig Hutcheon (1999 and 2013), Alastair Forsyth (2000), Fraser Mann (2002), Craig Ronald (2004), Mark Loftus (2007), Jason McCreadie (2008), Chris Doak (2010), Graham Fox (2012) and Gareth Wright (2014).
The field also includes the O'Hara brothers - Paul and Steven - as well as former European Tour Rookie of the Year Scott Henderson, Carnoustie course-record holder Alan Tait and Oliver Huish, son of 1975 winner David.
"My game hasn't been great this year, to be honest," added Kelly. "I've played well a few times, including when I finished second in the Northern Open at Royal Dornoch and fourth in the P&H Championship at The Renaissance.
"Hopefully I can do the same again next week, but I will have to play very well to beat the likes of Hutch, Gareth, Foxy, Paul, Alastair and Doaky as they are all excellent players."
The inaugural Scottish PGA Championship was held in 1907 at Panmure, where 44 players competed over 36 holes, with John Hunter winning by a shot from Willie Fernie and David Kinnell.
The event's roll of honour has since become a 'Who's Who' in Scottish golf, with past champions including John Panton, Eric Brown, Harry Bannerman, Ronnie Shade, Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance, Sandy Lyle, Brian Barnes, Paul Lawrie, Andrew Coltart and Forsyth.
“Few national championships have reached the milestone 100th staging," said Shona Malcolm, the PGA in Scotland secretary. "I believe it’s appropriate to celebrate this historic event, while looking to the future in this first year of an excellent new sponsorship deal with M and H Logistics, and with the valued long-term support of Gleneagles."
The 72-hole event, which carries a £50,000 prize fund, marks the culmination of this season's Tartan Tour Order of Merit, with Hutcheon, who lost the title to Kelly last year, out in front in the "Road to Gleneagles" from Fox, O'Hara and Forsyth.
"The quality of the field is first class, and there is no doubt that this year’s winner will be a very worthwhile Scottish champion," added Malcolm.
The milestone event is being sponsored by leading logistics operator M and H Logistics for the first time as part of a new five-year national partnership with the Professional Golfers’ Association.
This is the 18th year in a row that the iconic Perthshire golfing venue has staged the event and Bernard Murphy, Gleneagles’ Managing Director, said: "We are delighted to continue our long association with The PGA by hosting the tournament’s 100th staging.
“This year we’re particularly looking forward to showcasing The King’s Course, which was officially relaunched earlier this year, following an extensive development programme to restore the course to its original glory. 
“The lay-out of The King’s, which is now in keeping with James Braid’s original design vision nearly 100 years ago, presents golfers with a different playing experience and demands different skills – a challenge which I have no doubt the players will relish.”
Malcolm added: “For the last 18 years, Gleneagles has not only hosted the Tartan Tour’s flagship event, but has provided support in so many other ways. Everyone at the PGA values the contribution made by Gleneagles and it’s fitting that the 100th staging of the championship is on the newly-remodelled Kings Course, one of the finest in Scotland.”



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