Darren Howie wants to keep Craigmillar Park Open title in family

Darren Howie
Darren Howie
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Darren Howie is aiming to keep the Craigmillar Park Open title in the family this weekend.

Older brother Craig won the event for the second time 12 months ago, holding off a strong last-round challenge from Darren to repeat his 2013 victory.

Craig has since turned professional but Darren returns to the Capital course with high hopes of going one better in the Scottish Order of Merit event.

“I’m looking forward to the start of the season in Scotland,” said the 18-year-old. “I like Craigmillar Craig, having played a lot of junior team games there.

“It’s a fun course that’s sets up for a lot of birdies and is very similar to my home course of Peebles.

“With Craig having won it last year for a second time, it would mean a lot to me to keep it in the family.

“Also, the fact a couple of Tour players have triumphed in this event in the past (including Nick Faldo), it would be cool to say you’ve won the Craigmillar Park Open.”

Howie’s preparations for the new domestic season included a trip to South Africa as part of a Scottish Golf squad that enjoyed some top-class competition.

“It’s helped a lot,” he said of that. “It made me realise what was going well and what needed worked on for the season.

“And, with the chance to both practice and play, what I got done in that month away was well worth it.”

Others in the field for the 72-hole event include former Scottish Order of Merit winner James White, who finished fourth 12 months ago following his re-instatement as an amateur.

“I won’t be doing the full amateur circuit,” said the Fifer of his plans for 2018. “Like last year I’m likely to play the ones which are local to me and that fit around work. But I’m looking forward to playing nonetheless.”

The field also includes two-time winners Graeme Robertson (Glenbervie) and Craig Watson (East Renfrewshire) while newcomers to keep an eye on are Nairn’s Calum Scott and John Paterson of the New Club St Andrews.

Leading the Lothians challenge are Liberton’s Kieran Cantley and Euan McIntosh of Turnhouse, who finished first and second respectively in last weekend’s Scottish Champion of Champions at Leven Links.

Flying the flag for the host club and hoping to take advantage of local knowledge as they test themselves against some of the top amateur in Scotland are Sam Hall and Conor O’Toole.

A number of English challengers will be out to try and emulate Faldo’s feat, including Hexham’s Sam Heads, Andrew Minniken of Alnmouth and Nicholas People (Royal Lytham).

This year’s line-up also includes a German representative in Niklas Blyth, who is a member of St Leon Rot, venue for the 2015 Solheim Cup.