A record number of Scottish golfers graduated to the European Tour following a breakthrough season on the European Challenge Tour.
The four players, all under 30 years old, earned over €100,000 each and combined for three trophies as they secured their life changing promotions to the big stage.
Leading the way on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah was North Berwick resident Grant Forrest, who topped the Scottish contingent at seventh on the Rankings and did so in spite of a win-less campaign.
What the 25 year old lacked in trophies, he made up for in high-paying close calls, hallmarked by four podium finishes, which included a play-off appearance against Stuart Manley at the Hauts de France Golf Open.
After finishing in a tie for tenth place at the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final, his seventh top ten of the season, Forrest was excited for his countrymen.
“It’s great to have four guys qualify,” he said. “It’s the most I think we have had to come off the Challenge Tour. Hopefully now we can move up and make an impact.”
No Scot in the graduating class tasted the thrill of victory more than Liam Johnston. Beginning the year without a full playing category on the Challenge Tour, he won the head-to-head format Andalucia — Costa del Sol Match Play 9 in just his third start.
Streaky, high finishes can often times prove better than a string of middle-of-the-pack results and the 25 year old proved that once again when he hit the jackpot — winning the lucrative Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG, the €72,000 pay day cementing his European Tour card after making only a single cut in his previous seven attempts.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” Johnston said. “There has been a lot of us out here. A good mix of young and old so it’s fantastic to get four out of the 15 from such a small country. It’s brilliant.
“Of course now, for sure, we can go on and push for European Tour titles. I don't see why not. We’ve got everything in front of us so we are looking forward to next year.”
Like Forrest, Robert MacIntyre did not record a win this season but did play himself into a play-off. In fact, the 22 year old saw action in two overtime match-ups this season, and despite falling to birdies by hometown hero Kim Koivu at the Vieurmäki Finnish Challenge and Victor Perez at the Foshan Open, MacIntyre came into the Grand Final holding on to a top 15 spot, needing however, a strong closing act.
He provided exactly that, and with a tied sixth place showing in Ras Al Khaimah he solidified his European Tour card.
“It’s been a great week for me personally and for all Scottish guys,” he said. “A massive positive.”
Rounding out the quartet was David Law, who jumped into the Road to Ras Al Khaimah top 15 when he notched his first career win, on home-soil, at the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. The Aberdeen native never relinquished his all-important graduation spot as he collected another six top 15 finishes on his way to the final hole of the season.
“It’s been a great year for the Scottish boys,” the 27 year old said. “Liam had great success earlier in the year and I think we have all fed off that. A lot of guys have been doing well each week and we have all bounced off each other.”