Dunhill Links: Grant Forrest ‘pretty happy’ with first pro effort

CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Grant Forrest of Scotlland plays his second shot to the 18th green during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Championship Course, Carnoustie on October 6, 2016 in Carnoustie, Scotland.  (Photo by Ian Walton/General Mills via Getty Images)
CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 06: Grant Forrest of Scotlland plays his second shot to the 18th green during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Championship Course, Carnoustie on October 6, 2016 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Ian Walton/General Mills via Getty Images)
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Grant Forrest admitted he was “pretty happy” with his opening salvo as a professional – a one-over 73 at Carnoustie in the opening round of the £4 million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

On a day when Swede Alex Noren carded a course record-equalling 64 at the same venue that Stephen Gallacher described as “brilliant”, Forrest had reason to feel content with his effort.

Not only had the wind picked up as his group reached the fearsome closing stretch on the Angus course but the temperature was also dropping dramatically as well, which added to an already difficult enough challenge.

“I’m pretty happy with that,” said the East Lothian star of a round that contained three birdies and four bogeys at the course regarded as the toughest on the Open Championship rota.

“I played really good the first 14 holes without really holing anything but had birdied all the par 5s, which certainly helps.

“It was then a case of trying to hold on over the last four as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. The wind was a wee bit different to what it normally is at Carnoustie and that meant the 18th was straight into it.

“That’s the tough one out of the way and hopefully I can go out over the next two days (he moves on to Kingsbarns today then plays at St Andrews tomorrow) and shoot a couple of low scores.”

The 23-year-old, who has Brett Desmond, son of Celtic majority shareholder Dermot as his pro-am partner, added: “I was definitely nervous on the first tee but, fortunately, it was straight downwind so wasn’t the toughest of opening shots with an iron. I felt quite comfortable out there and Brett was a good guy to play with. He’s a pretty good player as well off four and four-under as a team round Carnoustie wasn’t bad.”

Gallacher, the 2004 winner, opened with a two-under-par 70 at St Andrews, where the closing stretch was also a tough test in the conditions.

“The wind quartered coming down the last few holes,” said the 41-year-old. “I played nice all day, just got a flyer at 16 trying to hit it 150 out of the left semi and it’s gone 170. Then I bogeyed 17 but apart form that it was stress free.

“I drove it well today and the front nine could have been a couple less because I gave myself more chances.

“I maybe got a wee bit tired at the end because I’m not feeling too good but I drove brilliant and that’s where I”ve been struggling. If I can keep that up for the rest of the year we’ll see what happens.”

Bonnyrigg-based Jamie McLeary, who secured a late spot in the field as he battles to try and hang on to his European Tour card, signed for a 71 at St Andrews, while Richie Ramsay blamed a “mental mistake” for the double-bogey 6 he ran up at the last at Carnoustie, where he still signed for a two-under-par 70.

“Two-under is a decent score,” declared the Edinburgh-based player. “It’s Carnoustie – it’s never easy, especially if you play it the way we played it. You know you’re in for a tough last four holes.”

Scottish Open champion Noren became the 10th player to card 64 at Carnoustie. “That’s a brilliant round there any day, never mind a windy one like this,” said Gallacher of the Swede’s effort.