Grant Forrest, Calum Hill and David Law all in Hero Open title mix
Grant Forrest and Calum Hill share the lead heading into the final round of the £1.7 million Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews, but they are not alone in trying to give the home fans something to shout about at the Fife venue.
After a productive day for the Caledonian contingent on the Torrance Course, David Law is also handily-placed, sitting just two shots behind his compatriots, with all three having produced some brilliant golf over the opening 54 holes.
Pride of place on day three on the cliff tops above the Auld Grey Toun went to Forrest, who started with a bogey but then made an astonishing 11 birdies in 16 holes, signing for a 62 – it wasn’t a course record due to preferred lies being in operation – as he moved to 18-under-par.
The 28-year-old Haddington-based player is chasing his first victory in the professional ranks, but, having looked at home on the European Tour since stepping up from the Challenge Tour, he’s definitely got the game to grab this opportunity with both hands.
“To play in St Andrews in the home of golf and to have three Scots up there is great,” said Forrest, who transformed his day after that stuttering start with a burst of six birdies in a row around the turn before setting up the final one by hitting driver-driver at the 18th.
“It was one of those days,” admitted the former Scottish Amateur champion. “The first couple of days I played nicely but couldn’t get anything going and didn’t really make a putt. Today I changed my putting grip and I made pretty much everything.
“I just felt I wasn’t hitting putts solidly and I went back to left over right, which I’ve done in the past, so it’s not something new. It feels natural. I hit loads of really good putts today. I’m delighted.”
Hill, who led after an opening 63 before being overtaken by Dane Lucas Bjerregaard at the halfway stage, got the penultimate round off to a flying start by rolling in a curling 25-footer for a birdie at the second then making an eagle-3 from six feet at the next.
After adding gains at the sixth and seventh to be out in 31, the 26-year-old Kirkcaldy-born player dropped his first shot of the week after coming up short with an approach at the 10th before then three-putting from long range at the 14th.
Hill, though, has gone about his business with a real coolness so far this week and, in front of family and friends, the three-time Challenge Tour winner repaired the damage with birdies at the 15th and 18th, where he judged both the pace and line of a tricky downhiller to perfection.
“I played really nice,” said Hill, who is working well with a new caddie, Dan Parratt, on his bag. “It was difficult to make putts when it got windy, so I think that altered my score a bit because today I felt like it was my best ball-striking round. All around, I’m very happy.
“I’m very determined (to win). This is what you play for isn’t it? I’m looking forward to it with the home crowd and family watching, I’ll be giving it my best.”
Law, who already knows what it feels like to win on home soil as a professional, having landed the Scottish Challenge at Aviemore in 2018, set up another chance with a bogey-free 66 to sit in a tie for fourth alongside Bjerregaard (71) on 16-under.
“I’m really pleased, especially with the back nine,” said the 30-year-old Aberdonian, who made a great up and down from a bunker short of the 15th green for one of three birdies in four holes on the journey home.
After making his breakthrough on the main tour in the 2018 ISPS Handa Vic Open, Law struggled to find consistency, but, guided by Bothwell Castle-based swing guru Alan McCloskey, his game has been on the up over the past couple of months.
“It would mean a lot (to win at home),” admitted the two-time Scottish Amateur champion. “I’ve not been in this position, up there trying to win a golf tournament, for a couple of years.
"I’ve been playing good golf and I’m comfortable in these situations. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s why we practice and why we play. I’m excited.”
As well as 2018 Dunhill Links winner Bjerregaard, other possible party-poopers include Spaniard Santiago Tarrio, who sits just one behind Forrest and Hill after finishing birdie-birdie in his 67, as well as former St Andrews Links Trophy winner Matthew Jordan and American Berry Henson on 15-under.