Grant Forrest was once involved in a car crash on his birthday during the Amateur Championship.
Now he’s got something better to remember after reaching the final of the R&A event on the day he turned 22.
The Craigielaw star survived a scare against fellow Scot Greig Marchbank in the quarter-finals at Carnoustie before beating Frenchman Alexandre Daydou. The double win set up a 36-hole title showdown in Angus today with Daydou’s 20-year-old compatriot, Romain Langasque.
“I’ve certainly been beaten once on my birthday in this event before and maybe even twice,” recalled Forrest after staying on course to succeed Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil.
“I also remember being in a car crash one year at Royal Cinque Ports [in Kent] when someone pulled out of a street and hit the side of my car.
“I’m glad this birthday has ended up a lot better, though I think I’ll just go to sleep tonight rather than celebrating because I’m knackered.”
Forrest survived by the skin of his teeth in the morning after being two down with two to play against Marchbank.
The 20-year-old from Thornhill missed putts from five feet and four feet at the 17th and 18th respectively to close the match out. Then, after failing to convert another chance from around 15 feet, Marchbank found sand from the tee at the second extra hole and eventually conceded with Forrest safely on the green in two.
“That was definitely the best match-play game I’ve ever been involved in,” admitted a relieved Forrest. It had everything. It was good to come out on top and even if I didn’t win I’d just have been happy to be part of that match.”
The 2012 Scottish Amateur champion then won two of the opening three holes with birdies as he enjoyed a 3&2 afternoon victory over Daydou.
Forrest, who has just finished a four-year stint at the University of San Diego, added: “If someone had said I’d be in the final when I came back from the States, I’d have said ‘no way’ because I’d been really struggling for the last couple of months,” admitted the Lothians star.
“But I’ve kept working hard and my game has come back again this week. Maybe my loss of form was partly down to some hip trouble I had, but it has been fine this week.”
So, too, has been having Linus Vaisen on his bag since the Finnish player failed to join him in the match-play phase.
“Linus went to Edinburgh University and used to come down to Craigielaw, where he won the 2010 Scottish Boys’ Stroke-Play Championship,” said Forrest. “We then became room-mates at the University of San Diego for two years.”
Forrest’s only disappointment was that he was facing Langasque in the final instead of compatriot Jack McDonald after the Barassie player lost that semi-final at the 19th.
One up playing the last, McDonald laid up short of the Barry Burn when faced with a 235-yard second shot before watching his opponent hole a seven-foot par putt to force extra-time before coming out on top.
“I felt it was a bit of a lottery shot,” said McDonald of his decision at the 18th. “In the situation, I felt it was the right thing to do. I left myself with 68 yards. I’ve got up and down from that distance hundreds of times and fancied my chances but ...”
It left Forrest as the Scot chasing Open, Masters and US Open spots in addition to a coveted title in today’s final.