Gareth Wright has had almost an itinerant existence as a golf professional this season but if he continues to play the way he did opening his Scottish title campaign there’s a big decision to be made.
The 35-year-old Welshman blitzed the King’s Course at Gleneagles on the opening day of the M&H Logistics Scottish PGA Championship for a nine-under 62 and an immediate five-stroke lead over the field as he aims to regain the national title, which he was the first non-Scot to win in 2014.
Long domiciled and now head pro at West Linton in Midlothian, Wright has played five European Tour events this season, a handful of Challenge Tour and his usual stomping ground of the Tartan Tour.
“I think I’ve spread myself to thin this year, I’ve played all over the place,” he admitted after his opening round, brilliant work in tricky and blustery conditions on the restored King’s.
He had made a solid start but as often happens the great round was really kick-started by an escape, driving into a fairway bunker at the long sixth, hitting out sideways and still being 45 yards short with a three-wood third he thought was headed for the bushes.
Of course Wright then promptly pitched in to go to four-under for the day, added another birdie at the short eighth and after hitting a driver at the short par four 14th to 10 feet and holing for eagle, was thinking about 60 or even better.
“Then I shaved the hole at 15, lipped out at 16 and realised it wasn’t going to be,” he admitted, adding a birdie at the last to finish out.
Wright will sit down next year to decide what he wants to do with his career, whether to stick playing the domestic scene or try his hand at the big tour.
“I was feeling pretty disappointed driving up from the British Masters last week having missed the cut by one,” he admitted.
“I don’t feel out of place when I play on the European Tour and I seem to miss the cut or make it by a shot every time.
“I played two rounds with Richie (Ramsay) at the Grove and see a lot of the guys I know from amateur golf and they all say to me, `when will you get your act together and get out here?’ I didn’t go to the Tour School this year but I’ll sit down next year and think about making a concerted effort.”
Wright’s 62 was off preferred lies after recent rains, just short anyway of Chris Doak’s 61 in this championship from 2010, and the popular Greenock man was back the domestic beat with a solid 67 yesterday.
Doaky is recovering from wrist problems but showed plenty of his old class, although he was nonplussed by the five and a quarter hours it took to play a 6790-yard course.
“It’s the same on every tour no matter which one it is,” he said. “Guys are never ready to play, and no-one waves anyone through anymore.
“A four-ball in a pro-am, you know you’re taking five hours. But three-balls take as long as a fourball used to now.”
Ross Cameron, from the Paul Lawrie stable and playing mini-tours mostly this season, former tour winner Englishman Jonathan Lomas, now based in Ayrshire, and Sam Binning both shot four-under 67s as well.
62 G Wright (West Linton)
67 R Cameron (Saltire Energy), C Doak (unattached), J Lomas (Caprington), S Binning (Mearns Castle)
69 P O’Hara (N Lanarkshire Leisure), C Ronald (Carluke)
70 G Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie GC), I Campbell (Cheshunt Park), G Hay (Grantown-on-Spey)
71 P Wardell (North Berwick), A Brown (Whitecraigs), A Forsyth (Mearns Castle), I Stoddart (Greenburn)
72 C Currie (Caldwell), C Matheson (Falkirk Tryst), G McBain (Newmachar), M Owenson (Gullane), M Loftus (Mearns Castle)
73 S Henderson (Kings Links), P McKechnie (Braid Hills), K McNicoll (Gullane), A Reid (West Lothian)