Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Strong field for Aberdeen Asset Management

Scottish Open qualifier at K/Barassie

A former PGA champion and two members of a winning Walker Cup team will be among the hopefuls in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open qualifier at Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club this weekend.
Being staged for the third year in a row in order to give Scottish players a chance to play in their home Open, four spots will be up for grabs in the 36-hole contest, with the lucky quartet joining a star-studded field at neighbouring Dundonald Links next week.
Among those bidding to secure one of those prized spots in the £5.5 million Rolex Series event is Scott Drummond, who enjoyed his finest hour in the game when winning the European Tour's flagship event, the PGA Championship, at Wentworth in 2004.
That victory saw Drummond crowned as the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, having graduated to the main circuit on the back of two triumphs on the Challenge Tour as he was cutting his teeth in the paid ranks.
The 43-year-old no longer plays on the European Tour but has been keeping his hand in by competing on mini-circuits and will be looking to get in the mix at the Ayrshire venue on Saturday and Sunday.
The field also includes some local players who should receive lots of support as they try to secure berths alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler on July 13-16.
Jack Doherty, who lives in Kilmarnock and is attached to Rowallan Castle, is bidding to pass the test with flying colours again, having carded rounds of 68 and 70 for a one-shot victory in last year's event at Moray Golf Club Lossiemouth.
Three of the four others to qualify on that occasion - Kris Nicol, Peter Whiteford and Gareth Wright - are also trying again, with the odd man out being former European Tour winner Alastair Forsyth.
Like Doherty, Jack McDonald would be a popular qualifier on this occasion, even more so probably given that he will be bidding to pull off that feat at his home club.
Indeed, he became just the club's third honorary member, joining Jim Milligan and Gordon Sherry, after being part of Great Britain and Ireland's winning team in the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham.
"It is great to have a chance on my home course to qualify for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open," said McDonald, who is now in the pro ranks, where he has been playing on both the Challenge Tour and Alps Tour this season.
"I've not actually played there that much this year, probably only once or twice, but I am really looking forward to it and I think there will be a good buzz about the club over the weekend."
Bearsden's Ewen Ferguson, another member of that triumphant team in Lancashire, joins Ferguson among the hopefuls, as do two sets of brothers - John and Scott Henry and Paul and Steven O'Hara.
John Henry heads into the event on the back of finishing second on the PGA EuroPro Tour last week while Paul O'Hara has won both the Northern Open and the Titleist and Footjoy PGA Professional Championship in recent weeks.
The field also includes Greig Hutcheon and Chris Currie, the two Scots who have earned places in the team that will defend the PGA Cup at Foxhills in Surrey in September.
Other players bidding to extend a good record in the event for PGA pros include Graham Fox, Gavin Hay, Ross Cameron, Chris Kelly, Keir McNicoll, Louis Gaughan, Scott Henderson, Greg McBain Paul McKechnie and Graeme Brown.
Also in the line-up is Craig Lawrie, the oldest son of 1999 Open champion Paul, as well as Andrew McArthur and George Murray, while six amateurs will be aiming to upstage the pros after being nominated by Scottish Golf.
They include host club member Euan Walker, who is being joined by 2016 South African Amateur champion Craig Ross (Kirkhill), Sandy Scott (Nairn), Rory Franssen (Inverness), Jeff Wright (Forres) and Graham Murray (Moray).
They will all be aiming to emulate Tantallon's Calum Hill, who made it through the inaugural qualifier at North Berwick two years ago to play at Gullane.
Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: "As a Scottish company with a history of supporting Scottish golf for nearly two decades, we are delighted to offer aspirational Scottish golfers a chance to play in their home Open through this qualifier at Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club.
"We look forward to welcoming the four qualifiers to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, which as part of the European Tour’s Rolex Series, should be the pinnacle event for any ambitious Scottish golfer."
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, added: "The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open Qualifier is a unique opportunity for golfers here to have the chance to qualify to play in their national open in Scotland, the Home of Golf.
"We are delighted to once again be supporting the qualifier and showcasing yet another one of Scotland’s outstanding links courses at Kilmarnock (Barassie)."
Shona Malcolm, the PGA in Scotland secretary, said: "As a Tartan Tour Order of Merit event, the field for this year's qualifier is one of the strongest on record. Kilmarnock (Barassie) is an excellent test of golf and a great host venue. There is no doubt that the four players who ultimately qualify for the Scottish Open will deserve to be in that starting line-up next Thursday."



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