Thursday, January 14, 2010

Missed flight KOs Andrew Coltart's Joburg Open entry

By Martin Dempster
Andrew Coltart's 2010 campaign will now start in Qatar next month after the former Ryder Cup player was forced to withdraw from this week's Joburg Open.
The Edinburgh-based golfer missed a flight back from America, where he had been on a business trip last week, and was unable to take up his spot in the South African event."It was one of those unfortunate things," said Coltart, who played in the two events in South Africa before Christmas and is looking to build on the progress he has made since getting back on to the European Tour at the start of last season.
The 39-year-old, who gets into the Qatar event as a former winner, added: "My goal for the season is to keep things simple and, hopefully, I will keep improving as I have done the last two years.
"It goes without saying that I would like to be in a position to be exempt for the bigger events on our Tour by the end of the year."
While Coltart may not have made it, there will still be a strong Scottish presence at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington today for the start of the final leg of a four-tournament swing in South Africa before the circuit moves to the Middle East.
Stephen Gallacher, Callum Macaulay, Steven O'Hara, Andrew McArthur and Peter Whiteford, all of whom played in last week's Africa Open at East London, have now been joined by David Drysdale, Paul Lawrie, Alastair Forsyth and Scott Drummond for an event that boasts a first prize of just over £184,000.
Drysdale, Scotland's top player in the inaugural Race to Dubai last year, finished third behind Anders Hansen 12 months ago, a performance that proved to be a springboard for his best season to date in the paid ranks.
The 34-year-old also played in the two South African events before Christmas, but is worried by the fact he's hardly been able to hit a shot since then due to the bad weather here.
"I had planned to come here last Wednesday, but I couldn't get to Newcastle Airport. So I arrived Saturday lunchtime and that was perfect timing. I've had four days of practice and the sun on my back," said Drysdale.
"Last year this tournament was a big starting point for me on a course I like. We play both courses the first two rounds and the East course the last two days - that suits me. Coming here has brought back good memories.
"But I have to be honest and say that my game is a little bit rusty. So I will be trying to get back into it quickly, although I wouldn't say my game is quite where it was last year at this time coming into this tournament
"I see this as a warm-up for the Middle East. I will be trying to get my game in shape for the rest of the year. I am looking to build on last season and win a tournament. My goal is to put myself in a position to do that.
"I am also in a position I haven't been in for five or six years in that I can pick and choose my tournaments. I will sort my schedule out and be where I want to be. Last season I was playing almost every week but I plan to aim for the bigger and better tournaments."
Drysdale added: "I have a new set of Callaway irons with the new regulation grooves and it will be interesting to see how these work this week."
Lawrie is making his first appearance since being forced to come straight home from the Hong Kong Open in the middle of November after injuring his back, while Forsyth says he's eager to get his new campaign underway after working hard over the past few weeks with coach Pete Cowen.
"It has been well documented that I didn't play well at the end of last season but, during my winter break, I worked on some things with Pete and I seem to be hitting the ball pretty well, so I'd like to think I'll get off to a decent start," said Forsyth.
In the field as well are Darren Clarke, Chris Wood, who was last season's Rookie of the Year, Italian World Cup winner Edoardo Molinari and last week's Africa Open winner Charl Schwartzel.
Richie Ramsay, who won the South African Open in his final event of 2009, makes his re- appearance in next week's Abu Dhabi Championship.



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