KENNY WALKER, the former world junior champion, is starting to turn his sights to senior sorties.
The Edinburgh man is now based in Thailand, but is preparing for an assault on the European Senior Tour when he turns 50.
“I am just working 20 weeks a year at the golf tournaments out in Asia,” said Walker during his annual summer trip home to Scotland.
“When I’m not working, I just play golf and work on my fitness. I’m looking forward to trying the European Senior Tour Qualifying School in four and-a-half years’ time.
“You really have to finish high up to get the chance to play many events but, failing that, I will still have a few events to try to qualify for the British Senior Open, the PGA Seniors etc.
“It is something new and interesting and it keeps me motivated to work at my game.
“I know [Thailand’s five-time Senior Tour winner] Boonchu Ruangkit and have played with him many times, so I am aware of the level these guys play at.
“But I will certainly give it a go and playing May to September fits in very well with my job in Asia.
“I’ll need to try and work on my flexibility – that has always held me back. Other than that, my golf is much the same as it always was.”
Walker was one of Scotland’s top amateurs as he cut his competitive teeth, winning the Scottish Boys Stroke-Play in 1984 then adding the Scottish Open Stroke Play title two years later.
The same year as that first success the Royal Burgess star also beat a strong field to win the Doug Sanders World Junior Championship in Aberdeen.
More than quarter of a century later, James Ross is the new shining light at the Barnton club and Walker caddied for him as Ross was successful in this week’s Open regional qualifier at Bruntsfield Links.
“James is a very good player and I’m sure he will have some very good results before the end of the season,” declared Walker, who is playing the odd Tartan Tour event this summer.
“I am sure he will make the Scotland team this year. He drives the ball long and straight, is also solid around the greens but needs to improve his approach play (70 to 150 yards).
“In my opinion, he over-complicates these shots. Instead of just hitting ‘stock shots’, he is always making in-between swings.
“Once he works this out, he will save around two shots a round. He has two more years left at Houston University, but next year he has to sit out from the golf team because he only has one year left of eligibility.
“There’s no reason why he can’t become a great player in the next two years – it just takes hard work and belief.”
According to Walker, if Ross decides to pursue a career in the paid ranks then it might prove helpful if he looks east, as Banchory’s James Byrne did after he failed to secure a European Tour card.
“I’m surprised there aren’t more Scottish golfers trying the Asian Tour once they have missed out at the Euro Tour Q-School,” he admitted.
“The standard is much lower than the Euro Tour and easier than the Challenge Tour and there is big money available.
“If you can’t do well on the Asian Tour, then there’s really no point to move on to the Euro Tour.
“I think too many of the young Scottish golfers aim to get straight on the Euro Tour without really thinking about just how good you have to be.
“I see first hand just how good the standard is and maybe they need to look at playing in Asia first.
“The lesser tours around Europe look like they are very expensive to play with very little prize money.
“The first year on the Asian Tour is tough but, once you make the top 60, then you are all exempt, getting into the joint-sanctioned European Tour events.
“James Byrne will be teeing up in the Thailand Golf Championship ($1 million) and the Johor Open ($2m), so there’s a chance to win big money there.
“He just needs one good week and if he can win around $60,000, he will make the top 60.”
V1 suits Craig
SUPERSTITIOUS Richard Craig has chalked up another title triumph in the Merchants club championship.
In a weather-delayed final, Craig defeated Ian Woolard 9 and 8, laying the foundations with a burst of four birdies in seven holes to take a six-hole lead into the afternoon. According to a club source, Craig used the same Titleist Pro V1 ball in qualifying and throughout all the matchplay rounds.
Young Scot in Junior Open
NORTH BERWICK’S Clara Young will add a Junior Open appearance to her impressive CV in Lancashire next month.
The teenager has been picked to represent Scotland in the prestigious event along with Colin Edgar from Cochrane Castle.
The Junior Open, a biennial event, was launched in 1994 and lists the likes of Sergio Garcia, Paula Creamer and Rory McIlroy among its previous competitors.
JOHN YUILLE is savouring the joy of six after his latest win in the Royal Burgess club championship.
In a final played in atrocious conditions, the former Baberton club pro’s son beat Fraser McCluskey 4 and 3 to lift the title for a sixth time.
In two hard-fought semi- finals – they both finished 2 and 1 – Yuille beat Jim Thompson while McCluskey squeezed past John Fraser.
Keiran’s in a class of his own
Keiran Cantlay was top of the class in the Portobello Schools Open Championship at Craigentinny. The James Gillespie’s High School pupil shot a fine 70 to claim the Cruden Cup. Firrhill High won the Portobello Shield team trophy, run annually by Portobello High School. Despite an indifferent summer so far, the Craigentinny course was in great condition, drawing considerable praise from the competitors.