FORMER Lothians champion Zander Culverwell is among the amateurs aiming to do a David Law in next week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Northern Open at Meldrum House.
It’s the third year running that the Scottish Golf Union has been allocated spots in one of the Tartan Tour’s flagship events, giving them a chance to test themselves against some of the country’s leading home-based professionals.
Culverwell, who lifted the Lothians title at Dalmahoy in 2006, has earned one of the spots for the first time after a consistent run of form in SGU Order of Merit events over the summer.
The Dunbar player has landed a great draw for the opening two rounds, when his playing partners will be Jonathan Lomas and Paul McKechnie.
Lomas, an Englishman who is now based in Ayrshire, won the Czech Open on the European Tour in 1996, two years after he led The Open at Turnberry and went on to finish 11th behind Nick Price. Braid Hills-based McKechnie, meanwhile, has been one of the Tartan Tour’s leading lights over the past decade and will be heading for Meldrum House fresh from playing in this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Culverwell would have been joined at Meldrum House by Lothians colleagues Grant Forrest and Paul Ferrier if they hadn’t been returning to the United States in the near future.
Forrest, the Scottish champion, is heading back to college in San Diego soon, while Ferrier is finalising his preparations to return to North Carolina.
After four years at college there, the 23-year-old is planning to use Charlotte as his base to launch a professional career, starting with a crack at the PGA Tour Qualifying School. It’s likely that Royal Burgess star James Ross also had to turn down a Northern Open invitation for the same reason as he’s due to return to college in Houston.
Ross is firmly on the SGU radar now, having claimed his first Scottish Order of Merit title success in the Sutherland Chalice at Dumfries & Galloway last month.
Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson, this year’s Craigmillar Park Open winner, is also missing from the list due to the fact he’s flying the Scottish flag in the Great Britain & Ireland team taking on the Continent of Europe in the St Andrews Trophy at Portmarnock.
But other amateurs in the field for the 72-hole event – it starts on Tuesday and finishes on Friday after being extended by a day – include three members of Scotland’s title-winning side in last week’s Home Internationals at Glasgow Gailes.
Kirkhill’s Paul Shields won five points of six for Scott Knowles’ side in Ayrshire, while Balmore’s Fraser McKenna and Ross Bell from Downfield also played their part as the hosts claimed the Raymond Trophy for the first time in six years.
Joining them at Meldrum House are Aberdour ace Scott Crichton, who also played last year, as well as Greg Marchbank, the Dumfries & County teenager who won the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Scottish Boys’ Stroke-Play Championship at Cardross last month.
The other amateur spots have gone to host club duo Greg Watson and Callum Trahan, Fraser Moore (Glenvervie), Michael Dailly (Erskine) and Adam Dunton (McDonald Ellon). They will all be bidding to emulate Law, who pulled off a stunning triumph 12 months ago to become the first amateur to claim the coveted title in 40 years.
Law is defending the crown as a professional and will be joined on the outskirts of Aberdeen again by James Byrne, who also played as an amateur last year but has since moved to the paid ranks.