Golf: West Linton ace on the verge of biggest win

Gareth Wright is hoping to finish the job at Gleneagles
Gareth Wright is hoping to finish the job at Gleneagles
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WEST LINTON’S Gareth Wright set out at Gleneagles today hoping “sensible golf” would secure the biggest win of his career.

The Edinburgh-based Welshman took a four-shot lead into the final round of the £50,000 Scottish PGA Championship.

It followed his second 65 of the event as he swept into top spot after 54 holes with a 16-under-par total of 197.

“I’m just sticking to my gameplan, trying to play sensible golf and taking one shot at a time,” said the leader. Wright’s flawless third-day effort contained four birdies in his first 17 holes then an eagle at the last. “I played well again,” he added. “My swing didn’t really feel that great, but I did some work on the range last night and this morning it felt good again.”

Wright won the British Club Pros’ Championship last year and has qualified for the PGA Cup for the first time later in the season. In his first major, he also played four rounds in The Open at Muirfield a fortnight ago. But, after being pipped in a play-off in the Tartan Tour’s flagship event three years ago, winning in Perthshire would top the lot. “You obviously want to win your national championship,” he said of an event that has been won by the likes of Bernard Gallacher, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Paul Lawrie. “We’ll try to keep the gameplan the same and see what happens.”

Leading the chase was Banchory’s Greig Hutcheon after he carded a second successive 64. “It’s a bit of an uphill battle because Gareth is playing so well,” admitted last year’s Tartan Tour No.1. “His confidence is up after playing The Open and so on but at least it gives me a chance to try to put some pressure on him.”

Meanwhile, defending champion Grant Forrest wasted no time sweeping into the third round of the Firestone Scottish Amateur Championship at Blairgowrie. In one of the early second-round ties, the 20-year-old Craigielaw player beat Liam Chambers (Cardross) 8 and 7.

It set up an all-Lothians clash in the next round against Simon Lockart after the Bathgate player won by the same big margin against Nairn’s Cameron Nelson. Lothians champion Alan Anderson is also through to the third round after the Bruntsfield Links man used his experience to beat Cowglen’s rising star Alan Waugh 3 and 2. But Anderson’s clubmate, David Donaldson, fell at the second hurdle, as did Mortonhall’s Andrew Hogg, defeated 5 and 3 by seed Danny Young.

Earlier, both Forrest and Lockhart had both been joined in the second round by clubmates. Greg Smail, who caddied for Forrest in The Open at Muirfield a fornight ago, recorded a two-hole win over Chris Maclean (Clydebank & District). It set up a meeting with Downfield’s Ross Bell while Willem Kerr, another Craigielaw member, also won his opening tie. Bathgate’s second-round representation, meanwhile, increased when Scott McClory squeezed through on the home green.

Kingsknowe’s Allyn Dick won at the 19th against Eamonn Bradley (Mount Ellen), while other second-day winners included Dalmahoy’s Murray Naysmith, Alasdair Simpson from North Berwick, and Longniddry’s Marc Owenson.