Grant Forrest set for US Amateur Championship

Grant Forrest was runner-up at the British Amateur Championship at Carnoustie
Grant Forrest was runner-up at the British Amateur Championship at Carnoustie
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GRANT FORREST has already lived the ‘American Dream’ during a four-year stint at the University of San Diego. But the Lothians star is relishing a trip back across the Atlantic to try and add to his handful of wins on the US college circuit.

Forrest and Ewen Ferguson, Scotland’s two top-ranked players, will not be pulling on the dark blue colours in next month’s Home Internationals at Royal Portrush.

Instead, they’ll be flying the Saltire in the US Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois.

“It is a huge tournament with a really strong field,” said Craigielaw man Forrest of an event won by Richie Ramsay in 2006.

“There are 312 guys setting out with the top 64 after two stroke-play rounds getting into the match-play, so it’s a tough event to do well in.”

Regarded as one of the finest courses in America, Olympia Fields staged two US Opens – Jim Furyk won the most recent on in 2003 – and a brace of US PGA Championships.

“I’m not sure what Olympia Fields is like,” added Forrest, who recorded one of his college circuit wins at Chambers Bay, venue for last month’s US Open.

“But I know from my spell over there that the courses tend to be long with big carries. I think that suits me pretty well as I hit it pretty high.”

The 22-year-old will be trying to go one better than the British Amateur Championship at Carnoustie, where he lost in the final to Frenchman Romain Langasque.

It will also be an opportunity for Forrest to seal a place in the Great Britain & Ireland team for the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham in September.

“It is great to have a chance of getting into the Walker Cup,” he admitted. “Two years ago, I was in the running when I came home for the summer but just didn’t play well enough.

“The fact I’m in the running this time has pushed me on to keep playing well through the summer.”

Forrest already tasted a team triumph against the Americans – as a member of the European side that won the Palmer Cup at Walton Heath last year.

“That was a great experience,” he admitted. “And the US team for that event normally isn’t far off what their Walker Cup team will be as most of their top amateurs are at college.”

All in all, Forrest looks set for an exciting end to his amateur career, though that will be determined by how he fares in the European Tour Qualifying School later in the year.

“My plan is to go to give that a crack this year as an amateur and see how it goes,” he said. “If I get a Challenge Tour or European Tour card, I will obviously turn pro. If not, I will potentially play amateur for another year.

“I’m straight into the first stage. The Roxburghe is one of the options but, if I get into the Walker Cup, I might not play there as it’s soon afterwards.

“Frilford Heath and Collingtree Park are other options in the UK while I could also play in one of the European venues.”

Forrest was speaking after progressing to the fourth round of the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship at Muirfield, where he now meets Williamwood’s George Burns.

Other Lothians players still in the title hunt in the SGU’s flagship event include Tantallon clubmates Calum Hill and Chris Low. It will be the end of the road for one of them today, though, as they now meet each other.

Marriott Dalmahoy’s Callum Cochrane was another local player still standing after a 19th-hole win in his third-round match.

Among those to bow out at that stage were Duddingston’s David Miller and Kieran Cantley from Liberton.