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Connor Graham: Everything you need to know about Perthshire’s rising golf star picked for Walker Cup

The 16-year-old Scottish Men's Open champion is one of the most talked about young golfers in the country.

Connor Graham with his family after winning the Scottish Men's Championship.
Connor Graham with his family after winning the Scottish Men's Championship. Image: Scottish Golf.

Perthshire golfing prodigy Connor Graham will this weekend become one of the youngest ever players to star in the Walker Cup.

The 16-year-old Blairgowrie Golf Club member is in the Great Britain and Ireland team to face the USA in the biennial contest at the Old Course in St Andrews.

It comes three months after he was crowned the youngest ever Scottish Men’s Open Champion.

Courier Sport explores the rising star’s background and his golf journey so far.

Connor Graham clinched first big amateur win in style

Winning the Scottish Men’s Open at Meldrum House, Aberdeenshire, was a big deal in terms of the manner of the victory, the quality of the field and the pedigree of the event.

Connor was near the top of the leaderboard throughout the four-round stroke play tournament but it was the style with which he sealed the deal that was most impressive.

A seven under par last round 63, which included seven birdies and an eagle, was an emphatic way to finish.

Connor Graham in action.
A young Connor.

It put him four shots clear of second placed South African, Altin Van Der Merwe.

The tournament boasts an illustrious list of past winners including the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Stephen Gallacher, Richie Ramsay, Tommy Fleetwood and Bernard Gallacher.

It always attracts a stellar international field, with Liam Johnston the last Scottish winner back in 2017.

He’s from sporting family

Dad, Stuart, is a very good golfer. He was a young professional at Dunbar and still plays off a plus handicap.

All three of his boys are golf daft – Gregor, Archie and Connor – and have been familiar faces at their home club, Blairgowrie, since they were old enough to pick up a plastic club on the Wee Course.

Big brother, Gregor, was in contention to win the Scottish Men’s himself, but fell away in the final round.

He was in college in Texas until last year but has returned home to further his golf career after recovering from an Achilles injury.

Gregor Graham.
Stuart, Gregor and Connor Graham (l to r) at Crail GS.
Dad Stuart with the young Connor, Gregor and Archie on the Wee Course at Blairgowrie.

Gregor won a Tartan Pro Tour event while still an amateur, finishing top of the leaderboard with a 12-under total at his home club.

Last year, while he was emerging victorious an international event in the Netherlands, Connor posted his biggest win prior to the Scottish Men’s, the R&A’s Junior Open at Monifieth.

Stuart says: “It was really just as soon as they could walk.

“Plastic clubs to start with, and the Wee Course at Blair, you really couldn’t have a better place to learn the game.

“Gregor’s been in the system since he was 12 and Connor’s followed him, so we’ve been at this for six years now.”

The Grahams love their football

Connor was a good player but golf became the priority in his early teens.

His uncle, Ross, was the chairman of Forfar Athletic for a while.

Before that he’d been a part-time professional with East Fife, Arbroath, Brechin City and Montrose.

Ross jnr, Connor’s cousin, is a central defender with Dundee United and a former Scotland under-21 international.

Ross Graham during Dundee United training. Image: SNS.

Connor really got serious about his golf when his form at boys’ level for Blairgowrie and Perth and Kinross County got him spotted for Scottish Golf’s Academy system.

He says: “Before that I was between golf and football.

“But I was always a little better at golf and enjoyed it more. So I decided to just focus on that after a while.

“I was about 11 or 12 when I realised I could be pretty good. It’s just been a steady growth from there.”

He’s from strong Blairgowrie stable

A young Blairgowrie golfer bursting onto the scene. We’ve heard that storyline before, haven’t we?

Blair has one of the strongest junior sections in the country (not to mention three magnificent courses to play on).

In 2014, Bradley Neil won The Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush, and with it came a place at that year’s Open and The Masters a few months later, where the then teenager was befriended by Rory McIlroy.

Connor Graham after winning Junior Open.

He was also taken under the wing of Justin Rose.

Stuart and Ross snr were in the Blairgowrie contingent who flew out to Augusta that memorable week and Bradley plays a big part in mentoring both Connor and Gregor these days, as well as still pursuing his own professional career.

The future is bright for Connor Graham

The transition from very good, exceptional even, amateur golfer to one who can make a living on tour, never mind become one of the top pros, is notoriously difficult.

Countless ‘next big things’ have fallen away. And, let’s face it, this isn’t a golden era for Scots.

Opportunities can present themselves that prove too good to turn down – as was the case with Neil when he won The Amateur at 18 – but if Connor continues progressing at a steady rate, the likely plan is for him to finish at Blairgowrie High School then head to one of the best universities in the States.

It’s not for everyone but he has spoken about going down that route in the past.

With a good family behind him, a support network at Blairgowrie and former Open champion, Paul Lawrie, in his corner, Connor has strong foundations in place.

Lawrie said last year: “We’d had mostly professional players as ambassadors for the Foundation but wanted to get back to supporting amateurs.

Connor Graham tees off at the third hole in the final round of the Junior Open.

“We saw Connor and he was perfect for what we want to do.

“There’s a long way to go and he’s still growing, he’s just 15. But man, what a player he is already, he hits the ball so well.

“We’ll do everything we can to help him reach his potential.”

Last year Connor revealed he was going to the gym in Dundee four times a week in a bid to enhance his game.

He said: “That’s helped me get a bit longer – part of it’s just growing but part of it is the gym work I’ve done, especially over the winter.”