Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Eight Scots heading for South African tournaments

Kirkhill amateur Craig Ross is among an eight-player national group heading to South Africa this week, seeking to continue Scotland’s run of success in the Rainbow Nation.
Last year, Ross became the fourth Scot in the last six years to win the South African Amateur crown, earning him an invitation to the European Tour’s BMW SA Open earlier this month, where he teed up with fellow Scot David Drysdale in the group behind four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy.
Ross missed the cut with rounds of 79 and 71 but hopes the experience sets him up nicely for the amateur challenges to come back in South Africa. We caught up with Craig, pictured with the South African amateur championship trophy last year,  for a blog piece…
Craig Ross:The SA Open was a great event to play in. It was a good course, tricky, with the main shot being the tee shot as the rough was quite thick. You only had to be three, four yards off the fairway and sometimes you couldn’t get it on the green with your next shot. I hit a few loose drives, which ultimately cost me.
“It was a good experience, playing behind Rory. You just had to be patient as there were a lot of crowds following him. It was cool to see both sides of the fairway just lined with people, a great experience, certainly different to other pro events I have played in.
“I posted a video of me warming up beside Rory in the second round. I was on the putting green in the morning, and then he came on and there were a lot of people watching him putt. I thought I would go to the range and get ahead of everybody, as when he walks to the range a lot of people follow him. Just as I left, he left five minutes after me and it was quite cool to see the numbers following him. He came onto the range behind me and started hitting balls. I watched him a little, trying to pick a few tips up. He is just a normal guy and he said a few nice words of good luck to me.
“I was meant to play with Brandon Stone, the defending champion, in the event, but the organisers wanted to put him with Rory to try and boost the crowds. It was still great to play with David Drysdale, a fellow Scot. He was always down the middle, fairways and greens. He gave me a lot of good advice for the future.
“From amateur to professional golf, I felt the pros were a wee bit more aggressive, like from the tee shot. Players were hitting driver on holes I didn’t think it was driver, and you could see the difference when they were going into greens with less clubs than me. It’s therefore all about learning and banking the experience.
“Looking ahead, it would be nice to win the South African Amateur again, I’ll certainly give it a go. Thanks to Scottish Golf and their partners, it’s again a good run of events for us all in South Africa and we’ll all be pushing each other on to win the events. We’ve certainly taken a liking to the South African Amateur and I think one of us could win it again this year.”
The male Scots group head to South Africa, thanks to the continued support of national team sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, South African businessman Johann Rupert and the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, coupled with funding from sportscotland.
Their schedule will include four major events on the South African circuit and a triangular match against the South African Golf Development Board and the South African Golf Association, as well as a training camp to allow players to work on short game, swing and fitness with support staff.
Ross, Liam Johnston (Dumfries and County) and Craig Howie (Peebles) are joined by four teenagers, including last year’s Scottish boys' champion Eric McIntosh (Bruntsfield Links), Calum Fyfe (Cawder), Sam Locke (Banchory) and Jamie Stewart (Old Ranfurly), to compete in the South African Stroke-play, Cape Province, South African Amateur and the African Amateur. Drumoig’s Connor Syme, last year’s Australian Amateur champion, will join the group to play in the final two events.



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