The PGA Europro made its fourth trip of the season to Scotland this past week, to Montrose the fifth oldest course in the world, dating back 451 years!
Another long drive for all the players was certainly worth it, with the course being in great shape.
With a Tuesday start to the event, I decided to make the 6 hour drive up on Saturday, this allowed me to walk the course before dark. This allowed me to look at all the holes and see where to hit it off the tee. With a true links such as Montrose, I feel this is of great benefit.
As there was no pro am before the tournament, both Sunday and Monday was spent playing practice rounds and despite there being very little wind, it did blow in different directions, which can completely turn the complexion of the course.
With an early tee time on Tuesday, I was hoping to have a good start and make the most of the course before it started to dry out, but round 1 was met with high winds and scoring was extremely difficult. The wind was so strong it was hard to keep the ball on the green. The 2nd hole had played as drive and a flick in practice, was now barely in range and at 391 yards, this gives an idea of wind strength. So after 8 holes it was deemed to be too windy to continue and we were brought in from the course.
The delay stretched out for 3 hours, we were lucky to get back out, as initially the forecast had said the wind speeds would continue to increase throughout the day. Before the delay I was 3 over which in the conditions wasn’t too bad, after the restart I played some good golf and only dropped one further shot and finished the day with a 75.
In professional golf a 75 is not normally going to put you in the top half the field never mind near the top of the leaderboard. But with the first 50 scores in the clubhouse, I was only 2 shots off the lead. As the day progressed the wind dropped and scores quickly started to improve and I finished the day 6 shots behind the lead and in the middle of the field. This shows how much the draw affects the outcome of a tournament especially on a links course, where just a slight increase in wind speed can turn a playable course into an absolute brute.
Thankfully the wind had dropped for round 2 and I played solidly picking up a birdie on 5, despite my best efforts I couldn’t make another birdie over the next few holes and when I bogied 11 and 12, I was over par for the day. Maybe this kick started me, as I horseshoed a birdie putt on 13, then converted birdies on 14 and 15 after good approaches. I hit one real poor shot in the round and that came on 17, when I hit it out of bounds and made double bogey, a par at the last and I was round in 72 and two round total of +5 with cut falling at +6 I would have a chance to improve upon things in round 3.
Round 3 was not what I was looking for and I struggled with my game and signed off with a 76, this dropped me down to a finish of 51st place. Montrose is a lovely place and the beach looked very inviting, I bet in the summer it would be the heartbeat of the town.
All the locals made us very welcome and especially Lynn and Doreen who have a lovely holiday apartment close to the course.
Next week is a week off before the final regular season PGA Europro event at Moor Allerton.