Grant Forrest bids for Amateur crown at Carnoustie

Grant Forrest sealed a three-shot win at the Redhawk Invitational at Chambers Bay
Grant Forrest sealed a three-shot win at the Redhawk Invitational at Chambers Bay
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Grant forrest’s focus this week will be on trying to succeed compatriot Bradley Neil as the Amateur champion at Carnoustie.

But it’s no surprise that the Craigielaw star is also excited about the prospect of seeing Rory McIlroy & Co take on Chambers Bay in the US Open.

Forrest, after all, has tasted success on the Washington course that has been a major talking point in the countdown to the season’s second major.

Last April, the University of San Diego student opened with sensational rounds of 63 and 65 to spreadeagle the field in the Redhawk Invitational before sealing a three-shot win with a closing 72.

“It is a cracking golf course in a great setting,” said Forrest of the Robert Trent Jones Jnr-designed layout where Martin Kaymer starts the defence of his title on Thursday. “We played it after they’d had a bad winter and it wasn’t in great condition. I’m sure that won’t be the case this week.

“It’s pretty much a links course. It’s set on the site of an old quarry. It’s not your typical US Open course, but they’ll still be able to make it seriously tough, especially if it’s really firm.”

That wasn’t the case when Forrest was on fire in his opening two rounds, while it also wasn’t playing at its full length then.

“Two temporary greens were in operation,” recalled the 2012 Scottish Amateur champion. “One was 40 yards shorter than it should have been while the other one, the tenth I think, was 80-90 yards shorter. But we played it pretty much all the way back other than that.”

An intriguing aspect of this week’s USGA-run event is the possibility that the par could change from round to round due to various teeing options.

“At the ninth, for instance, they have got a couple of different tees they can use so that can change the challenge there completely,” said Forrest.

“It will be interesting to see how it will be set up. I know it will be completely different to how we played it because it was quite soft then.”

While the venue would be Oakmont rather than Chambers Bay, Forrest would love to be playing in the US Open in 12 months’ time and will earn that opportunity if he can come out on top in this week’s Amateur Championship in Angus.

Being staged for the 120th time, the event has attracted players from 30 different countries, with the top 64 and ties after stroke-play qualifying rounds today and tomorrow at Carnoustie and Panmure going forward to the knock-out phase.

“I’ve not played Carnoustie, one of the great courses and tough as well, for a long time so it will be good to go back there,” said Forrest, who spearheads a Lothians contingent that also includes Craigielaw clubmate Greg Smail as well as Tantallon pair Callum Hill and Chris Low, Dunbar’s Zander Culverwell and Anthony Blaney from Liberton.

Having come to the end of his four-year stint in San Diego, Forrest has September’s Walker Cup in his sights and will use the next few months to gauge whether he is ready for a crack at the paid ranks later in the year.

“I’m not sure about my plans,” he insisted. The Walker Cup is obviously a goal and I’ll see how the season goes. I’m not really in any real rush to turn pro if I feel I’m not ready.

“There’s a lot of guys that rush into it. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve still got plenty of time to achieve my goals. I’ve not played as well as I’d have liked so far this year and I don’t see the point turning pro if you a good run.

“If you are not playing well in amateur golf, nothing is going to change just because you’ve turned pro. There is a bit of envy (towards Neil) because I’d love to play in the Masters and US Open, but for me finishing off my business degree was very important first.”

With an eight-hour time difference, Scottish golf fans will be burning the oil long after midnight to take in the US Open, which features Neil as well as Stephen Gallacher, Marc Warren and Colin Montgomerie. “Hopefully I’ll be able to stay awake for a wee bit of it this week,” said Forrest.