Saturday, October 29, 2016

 Great Scots! Law and Stewart in the mix on 

Challenge Tour in United Arab Emirates

        David Law (Getty Images)
Two Scots, enjoying and enduring markedly different fortunes on the European Challenge Tour this season, both surged into contention on Moving Day at the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge.
David Law from Aberdeen and Edinburgh-based Duncan Stewart from Grantown on Spey both signed for six under par rounds of 66 to move into the top five at Al Hamra Golf Club on 13 under par, three shots off the lead, and their performances highlighted the often unseen pressures of life on the Road to Oman.
While most eyes understandably fix upon the top of the leaderboard, for someone like Law – 82nd on the Road to Oman – the focus this week was on ensuring his Challenge Tour playing rights for next season by finishing in the top 70 of the Rankings.
With only the top 46 contesting next week’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, Law needs a top two finish to qualify, and though he has put himself within striking distance, he is not getting ahead of himself.

Law “I’ve not really felt much pressure this week,” said the 25 year old Aberdonian (pictured above with his caddie). “I’ll be more nervous for the final round, that’s only natural, but the last few weeks I’ve had the attitude that anything is a bonus, and I’m playing a bit better golf for it, swinging better, so it’s helping me.
“My target for the week was to reach the top 70 (on the Road to Oman standings), that’s the big goal just now. I think I’m 82nd at the moment, and it’s easier just to play and see what happens, but at the start of the week I wanted to get into the top 70, just to make Q-School a little bit easier.
“I know roughly what would get me 70th, what would get me into the top 46 – I know it’s second to get into next week, so that would be nice obviously.
“I need to go on the attack. There’s not too much trouble so you can be aggressive, and you know you’re not going to be able to shoot only one or two under par and stay where you are. You need to be looking for five or six under to make up any ground.”

Stewart By contrast, compatriot Stewart, pictured above, has enjoyed an outstanding season, winning a maiden title at the Challenge de Madrid and sealing a European Tour card with a top five finish in the Kazakhstan Open four weeks ago.
The 32-year-old is ninth in the Rankings, but while the pressure is off on the golf course – perhaps enabling him to play his best golf – the nature of his job makes life tougher off it when it means missing his son’s upcoming first birthday.
“It’s my son’s birthday on Monday,” he said. “I did consider skipping this event to be there, then heading to Muscat, and if I’d won again recently maybe I would have done, but I’ve got to keep pushing on in the Rankings.
“I think if I’d missed the cut I was going to go home for a few days and see them, it’s been a long trip, five weeks away, so I’m looking forward to flying home first thing Sunday morning after Oman and having a birthday party for him, which will be nice – a little celebration for me getting my European Tour card as well.”
Paired with Law for the final round, Stewart is aware of the oddity of two Scots being so far removed from their usual climate in the searing desert heat, yet totally in their element.
“It’s funny, we spoke about it the other day,” he said. “We’ve played out here on the MENA Golf Tour a couple of times, me and David, just up the road and we kind of like the heat for some reason.
“The pressure is off, and that’s definitely helping me. I stood here at the start of the week and thought it looked like a course that wouldn’t suit me, so I decided to go straight at every flag, doesn’t matter how far I’ve got just go straight at it, and if it works, it works – and so far it’s working.”

Stewart Knox And there could be double Scottish celebrations if Russell Knox – Stewart’s US college team-mate (the pair are pictured above) who has chosen him as his partner in the next month’s World Cup of Golf – can retain his WGC-HSBC Champions title in China as Stewart looks to cap his breakthrough season in style.
“It’s been an incredible year and it just keeps getting better really, he said. “It’s weird and it’s been bizarre, considering the position I was in last year. It’s hard to let it sink in to be honest.
“Then I’ve got the World Cup coming up, with Russell [Knox] – I didn’t see how he finished today in the WGC but I know he’s right up there, so hopefully we can both do it over the weekend.”



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