Grant Forrest has his sights set on a PGA Tour card after making his big European Tour breakthrough last week.
The 28-year-old held off James Morrison to win the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews on Sunday. It gave the Craigielaw man his first victory on what was just his 77th start on the European Tour.
Not only that, it also propelled him into the top-40 on this season’s Race To Dubai and into the top-200 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Significantly, it also gives him the luxury of an exemption on the tour through to the end of the 2022 season as well as an improved category that now guarantees him entry into all of the biggest events.
With the PGA Tour starting to take more of a stake in the European Tour, starting with co-sanctioning next year’s Genesis Scottish Open, Forrest’s win could potentially be the first step in catapulting the young Scot to the very top of the game – and he knows it.
“It’s huge,” he told bunkered.co.uk. “Obviously, the PGA Tour is where you aspire to get to but, traditionally, it’s been very tough to get on. You just have to look at Bob [MacIntyre] and see how well he’s played for the last two years and, only now, he’s got enough points to get a place on the tour.
“So, the likes of the Scottish Open being co-sanctioned is absolutely fantastic. It’s going to make the fields more competitive and harder to get into but, with my new winner’s category, I shouldn’t have to worry about that. It’s a huge opportunity.”
He added: “It just makes the pathway from the European Tour to the PGA Tour that little bit better. Since the PGA Tour did away with Q-School, you’d have to go to the Korn Ferry Tour instead, which I feel is like going down a level from the European Tour, but it’s still extremely competitive so you could play there for a full year with no guarantees of getting a card. Now, though, one big week could potentially change everything.”
Forrest, who admitted that he “couldn’t feel my legs” standing over his short putt to win last week, revealed that he has been blown away by the messages he has received since his Torrance Course triumph.
“Matt Fitzpatrick sent me a really nice text,” he added. “We’ve known each other since our junior days, so it was great to hear from him. Rory Lawson, the former Scotland rugby player, got in touch as well. Just so many different people. It’s been overwhelming, to be honest.”
His €190,000 cheque gave Forrest his biggest payday since he turned professional in 2016 and took his European Tour career earnings past the €1million mark. Not that he’s planning on blowing it on anything particularly fancy.
“My girlfriend Christy and I are moving into a new house at the end of the year so I’ll probably be sensible and put it aside for that – she’s got pretty expensive taste,” he laughed.
Christy is an Accident & Emergency nurse and so has been right at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months. That, says Forrest, has helped him to keep his own professional successes, struggles and frustrations firmly in check.
“Hearing some of the stories, it just makes you realise how lucky you are to play golf for a living,” he said. “I wouldn’t last 20 minutes doing what she does. It’s a big reality check. A bad day on the golf course is still way better than the best day in A&E.”