Accepted wisdom has that some experience or at least background knowledge of the Wentworth West Course in the BMW PGA Championship is absolutely necessary, but Grant Forrest thought his first trip down the “Burma Road” was better done blind.
The East Lothian player hasn’t played the championship before and had a limited amount of practice round prep before yesterday’s first round, but came in with an outstanding three-under 69 to lie just three off the lead shared by Tyrrell Hatton and Justin Harding.
He thought the softer nature of the West Course after a lot of autumn rain helped him as it was the opposite to what more experienced players would have expected.
“I really enjoyed it out there as it’s a great golf course, and I’m told it was playing a lot different to the usual,” he said. “In that sense it was almost helpful for me not having seen the course before, but then having played it quite soft you are not going to think it normally plays like that.
“I’ve not been here before but usually when it’s firm you have to adapt and throw the ball up in the air a bit more so today was a bit more unpredictable.
“Overall, it’s a great place to play and I can just imagine it with rows and rows of spectators as it’s really so special.”
Forrest birdied three of the par fives – the last was the only one he missed out on – as the foundation for his score, the best of the eight Scots in the first round.
“My game felt really good out there as it was playing quite tough, it was playing quite long and it was pretty windy, so you needed to hit a lot of solid golf shots,” he said.
Forrest has had a solid if unspectacular season, but after a strong showing just inside the top 20 at the Scottish Open last week he’s trying to strike at a good time.
“I didn’t play too well when we first came back to competition, after lockdown, but I had a decent result in Portugal (T14th) and I also played quite nicely last week. so I am trending in the right direction.
“These two Rolex Series weeks are worth a lot more points and they are lot stronger fields, as well, so, it’s a nice time to be playing well.
“For guys like myself it’s hard getting into majors at the moment but the way this year has gone, these two Rolex events can pretty much make or break your season.”
Richie Ramsay has plenty of experience of Wentworth, and a birdie at the last got him in under par for the day, but there were scant returns for the rest of the Scots.
David Law had been going well at two-under but found the trees at the long par five 17 and a double bogey meant he has to settle for a par round of 72. Stephen Gallacher, two over after three, fought back and his birdie at the par five final hole got him in at level par.
Robert MacIntyre got himself into position for a solid under-par score but two bogeys at the the sixth and eighth – his final hole of the day – meant he had to settle for a 73.
Marc Warren (74), Scott Jamieson (75) and David Drysdale (75) have work to do to make the cut.