James Ross is top amateur golfer of the year

James Ross. 'Picture: Kenny Smith
James Ross. 'Picture: Kenny Smith
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CAPITAL star James Ross will be named as the 2013 Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year after breaking into the world’s top 100 with impeccable timing.

The award goes to the highest-ranked Scottish player in the official World Amateur Golf Rankings at a particular cut-off time and that has just passed.

So, sitting 97th in the global standings – ahead of Graeme Robertson, Grant Forrest and Jack McDonald – Ross has earned what even he’d probably admit is an unexpected honour.

At the same time, though, the Royal Burgess man has climbed the rankings this year on the back of some excellent performances, including one wearing the dark blue of Scotland for the first time at men’s level.

He led the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying in the European Team Championship in Denmark, then helped Scotland secure a silver medal in that.

The 2007 Lothians Championship runner-up also gave a good account of himself when finishing joint-11th in the European Individual Championship at El Prat in Barcelona.

Earlier in the summer, shortly after he’d arrived home from a year without any competitive golf at the University of Houston, he claimed third spot in the Welsh Open Stroke-Play Championship.

“This summer went really well overall for me,” admitted Ross. “I was excited to get back to competition after redshirting last year at Houston and I got straight into it at Lytham and had a busy summer from then on. My third place in Wales really spurred me on and I played well at the Scottish Stroke-Play (tied ninth) and the Links Trophy (tied 12th). It was a great honour to represent Scotland at the Europeans and we had a great week there.

“The highlight of my summer was definitely leading the 36-hole qualifier in Denmark – that gave me a lot of confidence that I can play with the best amateurs in Europe and spurred me on to play some decent golf in Barcelona, too. It’s fair to say that I didn’t get the match-play results I wanted this summer.

“I probably got too involved in trying to ‘beat my opponent’ instead of just playing my own game and I paid the price unfortunately. That’s been a lesson learned going forward and overall I’m very happy with how the season went.”

Forrest, currently 32 places below his fellow Lothians player in the world rankings, has also returned to America – San Diego in his case – after an exciting summer campaign back home. It was highlighted, of course, by a dream appearance in the Open Championship on his doorstep and it doesn’t appear as though the Craigielaw player is being punished by the SGU for pulling out of the European Team Championship to prepare for Muirfield.

He was subsequently picked for the Home Internationals and has also now been selected to represent Scotland in the prestigious Spirit International in Texas.

“I spoke with [SGU chief executive] Hamish Grey and [Scottish Golf performance manager] Steve Paulding during the Home Internationals,” said Forrest. “That was good because I didn’t want anyone to have a bad taste in their mouth over the decision, which I felt was the right one for me at that particular time.”

Forrest, who reached the semi-finals in his defence of the Scottish Amateur Championship at Blairgowrie, has just started his third year at the University of San Diego.

“I’m probably going to be asked a lot about what was it like to play in the ‘British Open’ when I first get back,” he said, laughing. “To be honest, that wasn’t something I expected when I arrived home for the summer but it was a great experience.

“My aim now is to improve on my last college season, which included winning the WCAA Conference Championship.”