Dundee United defender Ross Graham has spoken of the “mutual respect” he enjoys with golf prodigy cousin Connor Graham.
Connor, 17, is one of the hottest prospects in Scottish golf, with the Blairgowrie boy crowned the youngest ever Scottish Men’s Open Champion earlier this year.
The milestones kept coming when he represented Great Britain and Ireland at the Walker Cup — another record — and helped Europe to a stunning 20.5-9.5 victory at the Junior Ryder Cup in Rome.
Ross, a Scotland under-21 internationalist, knows all about the pressures and demands of crafting a career in professional sport, and has witnessed Connor’s talents on the course up close.
“Although they are two very different sports, there are similarities,” said Graham. “There’s a mutual respect there.
“Connor is playing golf at a high level and I am playing football at a high level, so there’s a respect and appreciation for that. We both have to look after ourselves on the pitch and on the golf course.
“I can tell you from experience, I’m nowhere near as good as him with the sticks!
“I’m fairly close with his family so we have been out on the golf course together plenty of times. They’re more a golf family and mine is more a football family, so we all bounce off each other well.”
He added: “The Junior Ryder Cup and the Walker Cup were great achievements. It was great to see him playing in both. I watched the Ryder Cup and I was at the Walker Cup on the Sunday.
“I walked with him over the two rounds. It was amazing seeing those players up close; you don’t get the chance very often.”
Considered one of the best golfers within the dressing room at Tannadice, Graham smiled: “I’m alright, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet! But guys at his level play a different game. When you compare them to us, it is night and day.”
Continuing the multi-sport theme, Graham is fresh from watching a game of foot-tennis between teammates Chris Mochrie and Flynn Duffy as he sits down with the press corps at United’s St Andrews base.
“I wasn’t playing today but I was watching and it was a poor standard between Chrissy and Duff,” he laughs.
And both youngsters will hope for the opportunity to impress when United travel to Falkirk on SPFL Trust Trophy duty.
Graham has performed admirably when given a run in the first-team this season. Indeed, in a peculiar quirk, the Tangerines are yet to concede a single goal when he has been on the pitch in 2023/24.
However, patience has been required, with the form of Declan Gallagher and Kevin Holt largely restricting him to the role of deputy.
“You don’t have a leg to stand on when boys in front of you are doing really well,” acknowledged Graham. “Competition in every position is really high.
“Hopefully, when I have been given chances I have shown the gaffer I’m capable of stepping in.”
Discussing the impact of Gallagher and Holt on his own game, Graham added: “Both are really good guys.
“They have both played at a really high level, as well. Gall’s a full international — so when you’re in my position, you can only learn from them. I try to do that on the pitch, as well as looking at how professional they are.”
Shot at silverware
Although, by boss Jim Goodwin’s own admission, this competition is the least pressing of United’s three remaining priorities, a proud 17-game unbeaten run is on the line, as well as a tangible crack at silverware.
“When you’ve come as far as we have done you want to go all the way,” Graham added. “It’s a trophy and not many players get the chance to win those. You have to take every chance you can.”