Seeing as we’re heading into the final few days of 2015, we’ve decided to take a look back at ten of the best moments from Scottish golf in what has been a memorable year.
1. Amalgamation at last
On March 30, the long-overdue merger was finally confirmed and the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and Scottish Ladies Golfing Association (SLGA) would become Scottish Golf Ltd.
The move was voted for unanimously by the 16 Area Associations and ended almost a century of gender division. Scottish Golf Ltd was officially constituted on October 1 and, in its first weeks of operation, revealed its first unified squads, while the nation’s leading female golfers joined their male counterparts on a winter training camp in Abu Dhabi for the first time.
2. 2019 Solheim Cup goes to… Scotland!
After a head-to-head battle with Sweden, The Gleneagles Hotel was announced as the host venue for the 2019 Solheim Cup.
The bid, which was backed by the Scottish Government, was submitted in August and received huge support from stars across the golfing, sporting and media spectrum.
“This is tremendous news, not only for golf tourism and events in Scotland but for Scotland as a whole,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Calls to make Catriona Matthew captain for the match are likely to strengthen in the subsequent months and years.
3. Knox achieves landmark win
After his most successful season on the PGA Tour to date, finishing 34th in the FedEx Cup, Knox landed his breakthrough win on one of the world’s biggest stages at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
“It's incredible,” he said afterwards. “I always hoped it was going to happen but you're just never sure. There are just so many unbelievable players on tours all around the world and to win at this stage is a dream come true. Still can't quite believe it.”
The Scot’s win was hailed as ‘a great inspiration’ by former coach David Torrance, and he almost made it two wins in as many weeks but lost out in a play-off to Graeme McDowell at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Knox has now taken up European Tour membership in the hope of making Darren Clarke’s 2016 Ryder Cup team.
4. Scots deliver in Walker Cup rout
What a difference two years makes! In 2013, a GB&I team containing no Scots was trounced 17-9 at the National Golf Links of America.
But, fast forward to 2015 at Royal Lytham & St Annes and the shoe was firmly on the other foot, with trio Jack McDonald, Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest all contributing as GB&I achieved a record 16.5-9.5 win of their own.
Kilmarnock Barassie’s McDonald went unbeaten with 2.5 points from a possible three, while Ferguson saw off world No.2 Maverick McNealy in a memorable encounter as he collected one point, as did Craigielaw’s Forrest with a win over Scott Harvey.
5. Watson waves goodbye at St Andrews
Strolling over the Swilcan Bridge at almost 10pm in near darkness, Tom Watson sadly wasn’t afforded the fairytale end to his Open Championship career as many had imagined, but still saluted the remaining fans before declaring: “It’s been one heck of a ride.”
Forty years after lifting the first of his five Claret Jugs, Watson brought the curtain down at St Andrews and hailed his supporters. “The fans were so appreciative and their applause made me feel very humble,” he said.
Due to the adverse weather conditions, the Open had its first Monday finish since 1988, where Zach Johnson was victorious in a play-off a week after Rickie Fowler clinched the Scottish Open at Gullane.
6. Inaugural PL Matchplay ‘magnificent’
Players and organisers alike hailed the first staging of the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay – with the event scheduled to go back to Murcar Links at the same time in 2016.
“I think it’s been absolutely magnificent to be fair,” Lawrie said. “I don’t think you could have asked for any more. The feedback from the players has been brilliant. They have all loved the course.”
The tournament was won by Thai ace Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who saw off Robert Karlsson in a tense final. Marc Warren was beaten by the eventual winner in the semi-finals and finished fourth.
7. Scotland clinch Amateur Team title
For the second time in six years, Scotland won the European Amateur Team Championship after defeating Denmark 4.5-2.5 in Halmstad to secure the gold medal.
Jack McDonald and Grant Forrest were key players throughout the week – in a team which also included Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year Ewen Ferguson, Greig Marchbank, Connor Syme and Graeme Robertson – with both winning five points from a possible six.
And there was further success on the team front for Scotland with a Boys Home Internationals win in August - their first since 2006!
8. Ramsay marvels in Morocco
The Scot ended a two-and-a-half year spell without a European Tour win by holding off the challenge of Romain Wattel to win the Trophee Hassan II.
“It means a huge amount,” he said. “I just want to say to my brother and my wife Angela at home. My brother has supported me since I was young so this is for him and for Angela.”
As a result of his win, Ramsay was also awarded European Tour Golfer of the Month for March, which was decided by a panel at the Hilton Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Edinburgh.
9. Another stellar year for Monty
Montgomerie continued to enjoy life on the Senior Tours in 2015, successfully defending his Senior PGA Championship title and winning the Travis Perkins Masters for a third year in a row.
The Scot achieved 12 top tens in 19 Champions Tour events and finished second to Bernhard Langer in the Schwab Cup, while he won the European Senior Tour Order of Merit at a canter with a win at the season-ending MCB Tour Championship.
10. Matthew reaches LPGA milestone
Following a T8 finish at the Kingsmill Championship in May, the North Berwick golfer had the 100th top ten of her LPGA Tour career.
It was well recognised by Judy Murray – mother of tennis star Andy – who tweeted: “Catriona Matthew deserves so much more credit + exposure for her incredible golfing successes. 100th top 10 finish on the Ladies Tour. HUGE.”
Matthew will be recognised for her glittering career by being presented with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the Scottish Golf Awards in March next year.
Well, that ends our top ten Scottish golfing moments of 2015. Just missing out on our list was Sandy Scott for his Boys Order of Merit title following an impressive three wins, Jamie McLeary and Andrew McArthur for achieving their returns to the European Tour, Robert MacIntyre for his Scottish Amateur triumph, Grant Forrest for agonisingly missing out on glory at the Amateur Championship and Moffat’s Ivor Robson waving goodbye to the Open and European Tour after acting as starter for more than 40 years.
Scottish moments :: Your favourite?
What has been your most memorable moment from a great year of Scottish golf? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.