James Ross returns from US for Scottish Challenge

James Ross
James Ross
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Chase Koepka, younger brother of 2013 winner Brooks, isn’t the only golfer to have travelled across the Atlantic to play in this week’s SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge.

Joining the American in the field at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore is James Ross, who has made the same journey to play in the Challenge Tour event.

Royal Burgess star Ross has been based in America since he turned professional after graduating from the University of Houston.

The 26-year-old made 11 appearances on the PGA Tour’s Latinoamerica last season but missed the cut in the Guatemala Open in his only start on that circuit so far this year.

Now he’s secured a home start for the second year running in the Highlands, where he fell just two shots short of making it to the weekend 12 months ago after carding two 71s.

“I’m really grateful to be given the chance to play at Aviemore this week,” said Ross. “I had a great experience here last year in my first Challenge Tour event but narrowly missed the cut.

“I’m back this year with more experience of playing professionally around the world and I’m looking forward to giving it another crack.

“The course really fits my eye and I played some really good golf in spells here last year, so hopefully that will continue this week.

“It’s definitely a bit colder than I’ve been used to back in Houston, but it’s home and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to compete at this level this week.”

Ross, who has also made the journey back to Scotland to try and qualify for The Open at Royal Troon, is among 10 Lothians-based players in the Highlands line-up.

In fact, the event’s eighth staging at this venue is a great advert for golf in an around the Capital, with no less than eight local clubs having their flags flown by players this week.

Archerfield Links has two of the Saltman brothers – Elliot and Zack – representing it on the Challenge Tour’s annual Scottish stop while Dunbar duo Neil Fenwick and Zander Culverwell have also secured spots through invitations.

Providing Lothians interest as well are Duncan Stewart (Turnhouse), Paul McKechnie (Braid Hills Golf Range), Danny Kay (The Renaissance), Grant Forrest (Craigielaw) and Neil Henderson from North Berwick.

For the majority of that group, it will be mission accomplished if they can make the cut in the £200,000 event – but not Edinburgh-based Stewart, who is sitting fifth in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman rankings helped by a maiden win in Madrid earlier in the year.

“It’s always good to win your home event, but it would be fantastic to win this week and that would pretty much seal the deal for next year as well,” admitted Stewart.