Friday, 19 March 2010

Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie have added their considerable support to the establishment of the first European Challenge Tour event to be staged in Scotland for 12 years, the Scottish Challenge, to be played at the magnificent Murcar Links Golf Club from July 6-9 2006.


The €200,000 tournament, which will be funded in the main by EventScotland, has been conceived as a direct result of Scotland’s successful bid to host The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.


It is hoped that such an event, which will be an annual fixture on the Scottish golfing calendar up until – and beyond – The 2014 Ryder Cup, will produce a generation of Scots golfers who aspire to reach the heights attained by 1999 Open Champion Lawrie and eight time European Tour Order of Merit winner Montgomerie, who is one the most prolific points scorers in the history of The Ryder Cup.


As well as enlisting the invaluable support of EventScotland, the Scottish Challenge, which will occupy a prime position on the 2006 Challenge Tour Schedule and take place the week before The Barclays Scottish Open, will have backing from Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Enterprise Grampian, the Stewart Milne Group, media partners the Aberdeen Press and Journal, and Bounce Sports Management.


Murcar Links Golf Club is a proven championship course in the finest of Scottish traditions. Established in 1909 to the design of Archie Simpson, with later refinements by five time Open Champion James Braid, Murcar has frequently featured in the top 100 courses in the British Isles. The 6,314 yard par 71 layout recently played host to the Qualifying Rounds of The 2005 Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management.


Both Lawrie and Montgomerie are delighted to see the Challenge Tour re-establishing itself in their homeland, and hope that the Scottish Challenge can give aspiring Scottish talent the chance to join them at golf’s top level.


Montgomerie said: “This is great news for golf in Scotland and will give younger players making their way in the game the opportunity to test themselves against a very high standard of player from all over Europe, and indeed, the rest of the world. The fact that the Scottish Challenge has come about as a result of The Ryder Cup going to Gleneagles in 2014 highlights how important The Ryder Cup, and its legacy, will be to our country.”


Aberdeen resident Lawrie, a huge supporter of Junior golf in the Grampian area, added: “Any tournament that gives young Scottish players the chance to raise and improve their games should be welcomed. To have secured Murcar Golf Links, a course I know well, is a great coup for the Scottish Challenge, and I think the tournament will be well supported by local people.”


The Scottish Challenge is part of a wide ranging programme of events drawn up as a direct result of Scotland’s successful bid to host The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. A key focus of that bid was to support the development of golf throughout the younger age ranges. The most tangible result of this has been the establishment of the ClubGolf junior development programme, supported by the Scottish Executive through SportScotland.


Patricia Ferguson, Scottish Executive Sports Minister Patricia Ferguson, said: “Attracting the Scottish Challenge is another feather in the cap for EventScotland. It reinforces our determination to make Scotland a world-beating destination for top class events. It will be a key stepping-stone for the development of our best young players, and I hope it uncovers future Scottish Ryder Cup stars of the calibre of Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie.”


David Williams, Chief Executive of EventScotland said: “We are delighted to have been able to bring a Challenge Tour event back to Scotland. The Scottish Challenge adds yet another tournament to our portfolio of world-class golf events.”


With 20 European Tour cards awarded to the leading players on the Rankings at the end of each season, the Challenge Tour is widely accepted as the best way for aspiring young professionals to make the breakthrough to the top level.


Marc Warren certainly subscribes to that theory, having become the first Scot in the Challenge Tour’s 17 year history to top the Rankings last season. The 24 year old is now set to join Montgomerie and Lawrie on The 2006 European Tour, but is delighted to see the Tour that gave him the chance to launch his professional career returning to Scotland.


“It’s brilliant that the Challenge Tour is going to have a Scottish tournament for the foreseeable future because it is a great place to learn. The way I look at it, I am going to be doing exactly the same things when I play on The European Tour as I have been doing for the past few seasons on the Challenge Tour and that experience should count for a lot. The four round events, the traveling and everything that comes with it will be exactly the same on the main Tour. It also brings you down to earth and makes you work hard to keep competing, which, I think, can do a lot of good for young Scottish players.”

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