Young golfers join best in Europe

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Young golfers from Galloway will join some of the best young golfers from across Europe next week to compete in the Scottish Girls Open and the Scottish Boys championships.

The inaugural Scottish Girls Open Stroke Play Championship, a brand new event for under 18s, is set to become one of the most important on the calendar, and takes place at Strathmore Golf Centre in Alyth, from Wednesday 6 to Friday 8 April, running alongside the Scottish Boys Championship at Murcar Links.

A full international field of 102 players will compete over 54 holes on the par 72 Rannaleroch course in a bid to be crowned the first-ever Scottish Girls’ Open Champion and gain valuable world ranking points.

Strathmore was previously home to the Scottish Under-16 Girls Championship and last year’s winner, leading English golfer, Hollie Muse, returns as favourite to the Perthshire course, as part of a strong England Golf’s representation, which also includes six top-10 finishers from 2015. In all, nine European countries will be represented at the tournament.

The 42 Scots in the field are headed up by the 2015 Scottish Women’s Order of Merit winner Shannon McWilliam from Aboyne Golf Club. The 16 year-old top-ranked home player was runner-up to Hollie Muse in last year’s Scottish Under-16 Girls Championship and has already started the season strongly winning the opening national Junior Tour event at Forrester Park last weekend.

She said: “I’m very excited as it’s a new competition and it’s being played on my favourite course. I love Strathmore. Hollie (Muse) will be one my biggest rivals at the championship, but we have known each other for years so it’s very much a friendly rivalry.

“I haven’t had too much chance to practice much over the winter due to the flooding in Aboyne, but I am up for the challenge as I won my first event of the year last weekend. My golf was good considering my lack of practice and it gave me a chance to assess my weaknesses and improve on my game for this championship.”

The sons of two famous Scottish sporting stars will lock horns in the first round of next week’s Scottish Boys Championship, as the nation’s leading young talents set their sights on glory at Murcar Links.

By a remarkable quirk of fate, Michael Lawrie – son of former Open champion Paul – and Thomas Boyd, the son of ex-Scotland and Celtic defender Tom, will go head-to-head among Monday’s opening ties over the renowned north-east venue.

Murcar Links stages the Scottish Boys Championship for the fourth time, as the testing par-71 layout builds on its reputation as a leading venue, having hosted Lawrie’s European Tour matchplay tournament only last year and previously staged a Challenge Tour event.

A field of 234 players, representing 129 clubs, will tee up in the 75th staging of the Scottish Boys, seeking to emulate a list of past champions who include Andrew Coltart, Scott Henry and David Law, as well as GB&I Walker Cup players Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson.

Players from Galloway

Cameron Gray, William Squires, Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright Golf Club)

Maria Cowan (Newton Stewart Golf Club)

Matthew McCulloch (Portpatrick Dunskey Golf Club)

Angus Bendall (Castle Douglas Golf Club)

Mitchell Cowie, Greg Rice, Katie Malcolm, Finlay Copland, Jamie Marchbank, Rowan Marchbank (Dumfries & Galloway Golf Club)