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Farmfoods Scottish Challenge relaunches at Newmachar as a crucial step for Scotland’s potential tour pros

Paul Lawrie has brought the Challenge Tour back to Scotland this week.

Paul Lawrie’s next step in developing golf in his native North East and Scotland as a while takes a huge step with the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge at Newmachar this week.

The 1999 Open champion has long put back into the game through his hugely successful foundation and promoting other events, but he ranks this latest venture as his most important yet.

Event returns after a four-year gap

David Law won the last Scottish Challenge and went on to win on the main tour less than a year later.

The Challenge Tour hasn’t been to Scotland since Hazlehead’s David Law – still a client of Lawrie’s 5 Star group – had his breakthrough win at Aviemore in 2018.

Then, the Scottish Challenge was promoted by Bounce Management, who moved on to focus on their player clients like Robert MacIntyre, Calum Hill and Grant Forrest.

Lawrie had attended and admired that event, and believes it was a crucial step in the pathway of Scottish players on to the Challenge Tour. This re-launch, under the sponsorship of Farmfoods and with the backing of the R&A, has been long in the planning.

The former Open champion has promoted events on the main tour and the Seniors Tour. He formed the Tartan Pro Tour in 2020 to give home-based pros of both sexes regular competitive playing opportunities, and the circuit has blossomed since.

However even his long-running successful Foundation is secondary to this event in importance.

‘This is the most important event we’ve ever done’

“The Scottish Challenge run by Bounce did an incredible job getting out players onto the main Tour,” said Lawrie.

Scotland currently has a very healthy dozen with cards on the DP World Tour. Virtually all of them are Challenge Tour graduates. The Scottish Challenge was for many their first step on the ladder.

“It’s important we have it for the progression of players from mini tours to get their opportunity to get onto the main Tour,” continued Lawrie.

“We did enjoy having the matchplay event on the main tour for three years. But this is the most important event that we’ve ever done.”

The highest placed Scot on the Road to Mallorca is currently Craig Ross in 55th – from just two starts. Perth’s Daniel Young is 116th from just six appearances.

Young bidding for first Challenge Tour title

“It’s always nice to play in Scotland. We’ve got the typical Scottish weather to add to everyone’s experience,” said Young.

“I think we will have a slight edge if the conditions are a bit rough this week. Us Scots are used to the cold and our patience levels are a bit higher than everybody else’s.”

The 30-year-old, who plays out of Kingsbarns, won on Lawrie’s Tartan Pro Tour this year. He’s now looking for his first Challenge Tour victory.

“It’s nice to win at any level of professional golf. The standard is so high across the board,” he said.

“The Tartan Pro Tour enabled us to play some great courses across Scotland. Getting that win under my belt early in the season has given me confidence.

“I want to get that first win on the Challenge Tour, then focus on a place in the top 20. I’m taking it week by week and trying to get my game into the place where I know it can be. The rest should take care of itself.”

First time in North East for 16 years

The North East has hosted a Scottish Challenge before, back in 2006, at Murcar Links. Birmingham’s Sam Walker won by six shots – the first of two Scottish Challenge wins.

Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay was fourth despite a first round 77, shooting 62 in the fourth round. Future Ryder Cup star Alex Noren finished sixth.

Veterans Greig Hutcheon and Chris Doak played in that event and are also in the field this week at Newmacher.

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