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Eleven-strong SA squad to battle at Scottish Open
- Updated: May 27, 2016
South Africa’s top ranked Jovan Rebula will lead an 11-strong South African pack against a world-class international field from 12 countries in the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship, which teed off at Gullane Golf Club on Friday.
Fellow SA National Squad members Albert Venter, Tristen Strydom, Jason Smith, Aubrey Beckley, Andre Nel, James du Preez and Kyle McClatchie star alongside the George golfer, while Terence Coutinho, Noel Anderson and Tom Watson complete the local challenge at the renowned links of Moray.
The total entries of 232 for one of the most prestigious championships on the amateur Great Britain and Ireland circuit were whittled down to a 144-player field following one of the lowest ever ballots – an impressive +1.9 – for a Scottish amateur event in living memory.
The last Scottish national to win the prestigious title was Wallace Booth in 2008, with Richie Ramsay, Tommy Fleetwood, Romain Wattel and current world No37 Andy Sullivan all on the past champion’s list.
This year’s Scottish challenge is led by 2012 Scottish Amateur champion Grant Forrest, at 28th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking also the highest ranked player in the field.
The Craigielaw amateur will have a strong support cast in Sanlam SA Amateur champion Craig Ross, Walker Cup team-mate Ewen Ferguson and Australian Amateur champion Connor Syme.
The local attack is further strengthened by 2002 champion Barry Hume, who won the Welsh Open last week, and Robert MacIntyre, who will be hunting an East Lothian double after lifting the Scottish Amateur Championship title last summer at nearby Muirfield.
The Scots will be facing a stiff global challenge from several in-form South Africans, a seven-strong group of Australians, a strong French contingent and up-and-coming Irish Amateur champion Colm Campbell.
Rebula – a finalist in the 2015 Sanlam SA Amateur Championship – ascended to the top of the South African amateur rankings in April after back-to-back victories in the Eastern Province/Border Stroke Play and Western Province Amateur Championship.
Beckley won the Sanlam Cape Province Open, Venter lifted the inaugural African Amateur Stroke Play and the Western Province Amateur Stroke Play Championship titles, Du Preez triumphed at the North West Open and former Youth Olympian McClatchie returned to the winner’s circle in the Boland Stroke Play Championship last month.
Past SA Stroke Play champion Smith reunites with this year’s joint SA Stroke Play runner-up Stuart Grehan from Ireland, while the Australians field four of their top seven ranked players including Travis Smyth, Anthony Quayle, Zach Murray and Brett Coletta.
The championship will be contested at the No1 course at Gullane, which meanders around the undulating slopes of Gullane Hill and is sure to provide a superb test this week.
Carrick Neill, one of the UK’s leading providers of golf insurance, is sponsoring the event for a sixth year and Grant Casey, Branch Director, Arthur J. Gallagher, added: ‘We are excited to be continuing our association with the Scottish Stroke Play Championship, having been sponsors of the event since 2011.
‘The calibre of this year’s field highlights what a prestigious event it is for the best amateur golfers. Carrick Neill, part of the Arthur J. Gallagher Group, is proud to be Scottish Golf’s insurance partner, providing cover for many clubs across Scotland as well as thousands of golfers and we look forward to continuing that support.’
Picture of Rebula courtesy of Ernest Blignault