Scotland’s two top-ranked amateurs, Walker Cup winners Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson, will play two events of the Challenge Tour next month.
The pair will be staying amateur but are given dispensation to play on the European Tour’s second circuit under new rules allowing elite amateurs to play and potentially win points on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman standings.
Forrest (22) and Ferguson (19) will make their debuts under the new arrangement at the Turkish Airlines Challenge in Belek (May 5-8) and then at the Montecchia Open in Italy (May 12-15).
It’s the first events for the duo under the agreement between Scottish Golf and Bounce Sport, the Edinburgh-based management company that handles the affairs of top Scottish pros Stephen Gallacher and Craig Lee.
The Challenge Tour’s new arrangement for amateurs almost had a outstanding start when reigning Amateur champion Romain Langasque of France finished second in the season-opening Kenya Open. Langasque, who defeated Forrest in the Amateur final last year at Carnoustie, went on to play all four rounds of the Masters and then turned professional.
The agreement between Scottish Golf and Bounce allows leading Scottish players to be managed as they make the transition to the professional ranks. Both Forrest, ranked 25th in the world, and Ferguson, ranked 51st, are anticipated to make the move at the end of this season.
In the meantime they will remain part of the Scottish Golf performance system playing in elite amateur events while also dipping into the Challenge Tour with Bounce’s support.
“It’s fantastic to get these opportunities,” said Forrest, who started his season in grand style with a win in the Battle Trophy at Crail at the weekend.
“Not only can you get experience in professional events but it actually can count for something going forward. If you do well in the starts you get, it gives you something tangible for the following year.”
Ferguson, like Forrest a member of GB&I’s winning Walker Cup team at Royal Lytham last year, is “excited” about playing in Turkey and Italy.
“It;s great to have the experience of Bounce supporting us and we still have the backing of Ian Rae, the Scottish national coach and the support team.
“I’m sure that players over the last decade or so would have loved to have this same opportunity and hopefully we can benefit from it and play well.”
Three more top Scottish amateurs, Drumoig’s Connor Syme, Craig Ross (Kirkhill) and Robert Macintyre of Glencruitten are also set to secure Challenge Tour starts during 2016.