James Ross on a high in Texas

James Ross
James Ross
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Capital star James Ross has taken to professional golf like a duck to water, ticking two boxes already after his recent switch to the paid ranks.

The Royal Burgess player, pictured, has launched his new career in Texas, where he saw his game blossom during a spell at the University of Houston.

Returning there has enabled him to keep working with his coach, Kevin Kirk, and the early signs are encouraging for last season’s Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year.

First, Ross came through his pre-qualifying event for the Web.Com Tour Qualifying School as he bids to follow in the spikemarks of both Martin Laird and Russell Knox in using the second-tier circuit to get on to the PGA Tour.

“It was reduced to 36 holes due to bad weather, but I shot 70 and 69 for five-under to finish in a tie for seventh,” he told the Evening News.

That took him through to this week’s first stage event at TPC Woodlands where Ross was hoping to cash in on some home advantage. “It’s where I play and practise at,” he revealed.

In between those events, the 2007 Lothians Championship runner-up picked up his first cheque, earning $1836 for a share of 18th spot in the Kohl’s Open, a 54-hole event on the Adams Tour, in Louisiana.

“I’m really enjoying this new pro venture,” admitted Ross, who made the switch on the back of playing on winning teams in both the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy and Palmer Cup this year.

On this side of the Atlantic, another Capital player is gearing up for a big finish to his season as a pro.

Having won his stage one event at The Roxburghe, Neil Fenwick has next month’s second phase of the European Tour Qualifying School in his sights.

Before then, though, he’s hoping to secure a Challenge Tour card as back up by winning the PGA EuroPro Tour Championship in Egypt at the end of this month.

“I’m really looking forward to both events as my game is in great shape,” said Fenwick, who needs to jump 11 spots to finish in the top five.

“I feel that I can go to Egypt and challenge for the win then go all the way in Q-School. At worst, I’m aiming to come out with a full Challenge Tour card and would love to finish off a good season with a win.”

Meanwhile, Craigielaw’s Greg Smail has landed his first intercollegiate title during a spell at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He closed with a three-under 69 to come from fifth place heading into the final round and win the Cardinal Intercollegiate at the University of Louisville Golf Club.

Smail’s team-mate, Calum Hill from Tantallon, tied for third place to complete his second-straight top-five finish of the new season. “Greg was outstanding to come from behind and clinch his first collegiate win,” said Warhawks head coach Walt Williams.

“Calum had another great showing reflecting his consistent play early on in the season.”

Both performances delighted Kings Acre pro Alan Murdoch, who coaches Hill and went to ULM himself. “I am delighted at the start past Merchiston player Calum has made this year,” said Murdoch, the Capital school’s director of golf.

“To have played in two big tournaments so far this semester and recorded top-five finishes shows he really has settled down in the States. ULM is a great school and it is where myself, Kenny Walker and Kenny Buchan all attended, so it’s great to see Greg and Calum keeping up the Scottish connection.”