Scottish team heads to South AfricaJanuary, 2015
Nine players take part in tour of the Rainbow Nation.
A team of Scottish golfers are hoping to follow in the footsteps of amateur champion Bradley Neil when they take part in a South African tour this month.
Among the golfers, Kirkhill’s Craig Ross will be hoping to use his first experience of competitive winter performance training in South Africa to boost his Walker Cup hopes for this year.
Ross, 21, outshone the professionals to win the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Glenfarclas Open as he enjoyed an impressive 2014.
He said: “It’s my first time going out to South Africa and it would be awesome to win one of the events, but I’m looking to post some good results overall, really, and come back ready for the start of the season here.
“I think winning on the EuroPro gave me more confidence. It’s a Walker Cup year now, so I’m going to try for that. I’ve got a schedule for the year and some good results in South Africa will help definitely towards it. I’ve got goals to make certain teams this year, so we will see what happens.
“I’ve been busy this winter playing, practicing and training. I’m now looking forward to getting out to South Africa to play in tournaments, as I feel like I’m hitting the ball well.”
Ross is part of a youthful group of golfers, featuring five teenagers, who have been able to travel to South Africa thanks to the support of Aberdeen Asset Management, businessman Johann Rupert and the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, coupled with funding from SportScotland.
‘It would be awesome to win one of the events’ The schedule will include four major events on the South African circuit, the annual Test Match against the host nation and a triangular match against the South African Golf Development Board and the South African Golf Association, as well as a training camp to allow players to work on short game, swing and general fitness with support staff.
The squad will also work with the South African Golf Development Board, who help children from underprivileged areas into golf, with the SGU intending to send surplus clothing to South Africa for their use.
Steve Paulding, Scottish Golf Performance Manager, added: “Returning to South Africa provides valuable experience for our players, especially the younger ones, on and off the course. It also gives them competitive opportunities at this time of year ahead of the new domestic season.
“We have an exciting group of players in 2015 with a number of them looking to challenge for a Walker Cup place in September at Royal Lytham. We are hugely grateful to all our supporters who effectively fund this whole trip.”
Twelve months ago the performance programme proved hugely beneficial to Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil who credited his efforts in South Africa, including a tie for second at the Amateur Stroke Play, as a reason for going on to enjoy a successful season, including his Amateur Championship victory at Royal Portrush.
With Neil, who has just turned 19, preparing to travel to the US later this month for practice and a run of events in the lead up to his invite to The Masters at Augusta National in April, his fellow Scots will seek to shine in South Africa.
The Scottish team features: Ewen Ferguson (Bearsden), Calum Fyfe (Cawder), Scott Gibson (Southerness), Ben Kinsley (St Andrews), Greig Marchbank (Thornhill), Murray Naysmith (Marriott Dalmahoy), Craig Ross (Kirkhill), Connor Syme (Dumfries & County), Daniel Young (Craigie Hill).
This year, the players begin their competitive action at the Gauteng North Stroke Play on January 23, before the South African Amateur Stroke Play commences on February 3. A Test Match between the hosts and the visiting nation takes place from February 18-19, before the Sanlam South African Amateur follows at the start of March. The Scots finish their programme at the Northern Amateur from March 8.