Chris Kelly is hoping home support will help guide one of the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tourâ€™s Scottish regulars to victory in the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Rowallan Castle Golf Club next week.
Kelly, who is based at Cawder Golf Club in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow, is currently 22nd on the Tourâ€™s Order of Merit. A victory at Rowallan Castle would put him within touching distance of earning a category on the 2013 Challenge Tour, a reward handed out to the top five golfers at the end of the season.
Rowallan Castle is the first course designed by eight times European No 1 golfer and 2010 Ryder Cup winning captain Colin Montgomerie and the Tour takes over the stunning Scottish venue on August 1-3. Itâ€™s the first of two consecutive events in Scotland, with the Tour heading to Mar Hall in Bishopton the following week.
Kelly is one sixth of â€˜Team Scotlandâ€™, a self-titled group of players who travel together on the Tour. Despite their name, two of the six are English but Kelly is hopeful that for the Scottish contingent, playing on home territory will bring success to their ranks.
â€œTeam Scotland started as a bit of fun,â€ he explained. â€œThere are six of us (myself, Duncan Stewart, Ed Wood, John Henry and Englishmen Steve Surry and Zane Scotland) and we all travel to the tournaments together and try and help each other out.
â€œI think there is a good chance that one of us will win one of the last five events; the boys are playing some good golf at the moment. Duncan has been playing well all year, I had a good start, Zane is a great player and at any point he could click and Steve has experience and has won on the Tour before. I think the chances of one of us winning are quite good.
â€œIt would be great if we find some home support at Rowallan Castle. Hopefully a few people can make it out and support the boys because it is always nice when you have some people following you; it always spurs you on and is a boost to be playing in front of a few people.
â€œI donâ€™t know the course that well, I have only played it once but I remember it was a very good golf course. A few of the boys played there last week in a PGA event, they said the greens were fantastic and I am sure it will be in good shape for the EuroPro Tour.
â€œI havenâ€™t been playing that well recently but my game is coming on a little bit better now. I came third in the first tournament but I feel you are going to have to win one this year if you want to finish in the top five because so far this season there has been a different winner at each tournament. But hopefully I can produce a win and where better than in Scotland!â€
Nineteen of the current Order of Merit top 20 will be in action at Rowallan Castle, including Scotlandâ€™s Elliot Saltman who returns to the Tour having competed in the Open Championship last week. Dale Whitnell, who finished tied 60th at Royal Lytham & St Annes, will also make his return to the Tour at Rowallan Castle.
Niall Campbell, Managing Director of Rowallan Castle Golf Club, commented: â€œWe are delighted to be hosting the PGA EuroPro Tour this year and we are looking forward to showcasing our championship course to both players and spectators. It is the first time this prestigious event has been held in Ayrshire and is a fantastic opportunity for Rowallan Castle and local businesses.â€
Eagle Orchid CEO Neil Armour said: “We are delighted to support the 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour, and so to help the next Ross Fisher, Louis Oosthuizen or Charl Schwartzel break through and move on to golfing greatness and take a path also followed by Marc Warren, the leading Scot at the 2012 US Open. This is a key event on the Tour’s schedule, and the first of two events this year in Scotland, the home of golf.
â€œThe PGA EuroPro Tour is about professionalism, focus and excellence to achieve performance improvement up to a higher level. So is Eagle Orchid – corporate financial advice and hands-on practical support that will take your business to the next level and beyond.
â€œFrom all at Eagle Orchid, we hope that everyone involved in the event – organisers, media partners, spectators and, of course, the players – have an outstanding week”.
A field of 156 golfers will participate in the 54-hole event with a cut of the leading 50 players plus ties made after 36 holes. Spectator entry is free throughout the event, which begins on Wednesday, August 1 with the final round played on Friday, August 3. Directions to the course are available here: www.rowallancastle.com/contact.htm