Golf: Raymond Russell says Tour merits ‘recognition’

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LOTHIANS star Raymond Russell feels the European Challenge Tour doesn’t get the support it deserves and its players don’t get enough credit either.

The former European Tour winner aired his views after getting off to a decent start in the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore. He carded a flawless four-under-par 67 to earn a share of seventh spot, three shots behind two English leaders, Daniel Brooks and Sam Walker. “The standard here is under-rated,” said Prestonpans man Russell. “It [the Challenge Tour] doesn’t get the recognition it should.

“Just look at the guys coming off the circuit, the likes of (this year’s Sicilian Open winner) Thorbjorn Olesen. All of a sudden there are people going to the Qualifying School and people say he’s a graduate from there, but they forget where he’s been playing all year. It (the Challenge Tour) doesn’t get enough support and the players don’t get enough credit as there are a lot of good ones out here.”

Russell has a medical exemption this year after missing most of last season due to a viral illness. He’s played a mixture of main Tour and second-tier events this season but is likely to concentrate on the Challenge Tour now. “Being realistic, you can’t do both Tours unless you get off to a good start,” he added. “With the ranking I have, I probably won’t get into many more European Tour events before the next re-rank so I’m going to concentrate on the Challenge Tour.”

Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick and Archerfield’s Elliot Saltman fared best of the other Lothians players in action at Spey Valley with opening 69s.