McDonald and Ferguson seal national Order of Merit titles

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Jack McDonald and Ewen Ferguson, two of Scotland’s most promising young talents, today expressed their delight after being crowned SGU Order of Merit winners for 2013 at Men’s and Boys’ level respectively.

Kilmarnock Barassie’s McDonald, pictured above, held off the challenge of Lundin’s James White to win the SGU Men’s Order of Merit, while Ferguson (Bearsden) eased to success in the Scottish Hydro-sponsored Boys’ rankings.

The SGU National Squad pair will collect their titles at next year’s Scottish Golf Awards in Glasgow, along with various other winners.

McDonald, the 20-year-old University of Stirling student, has completed a notable double after winning last year’s Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year award. Indeed, he is only the third Scot – after Callum Macaulay and Michael Stewart – to win both titles.

After his heroics last year when he reached the semi-finals of The Amateur Championship and played all four rounds of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, McDonald progressed further in 2013.

The Ayrshireman began the year without a 72-hole stroke play title to his name, but collected three during the season, including back-to-back end-of-season wins at the North of Scotland and South East District Championship.

McDonald, whose season was also highlighted by a tie for fifth at the S Andrews Links Trophy and helping Scotland to a runner-up finish at the European Amateur Team Championship, finished on 697.83 points, over 66 clear of nearest rival White.

McDonald, a past Scottish Boys Stroke Play champion, said: “It’s a great feeling; it just tops things off for me. I won the Amateur Golfer of the Year in 2012, so it’s great to do the double if you like.

“It’s great to get recognition like this at the end of the year. Now it would be nice to kick on further next year and win a couple of big national titles, as well as moving further up the world rankings.
Now it would be nice to kick on further next year and win a couple of big national titles.

“I still have two years to do of my Maths degree at University, so my focus is on that as well.”

Fifer White, the 2011 Men’s Order of Merit champion, pushed McDonald all the way after a purple patch since late June which saw him record three runner-up finishes, including at the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship, and two third-place results.

McDonald’s Adam Dunton followed up his tie for second in the merit standings last year with another strong season, resulting in a third-place finish ahead of Matt Clark (Kilmacolm) and Craig Ross (Kirkhill).

In the Boys’ rankings, Ferguson proved the class act, such was his consistency. The 17-year-old secured three top-five finishes early in the season, before he won the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Trophy in May.

After sharing second at the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Scottish Boys Stroke Play Championship, Ferguson reached the quarter-finals of the Fairstone Scottish Amateur at Blairgowrie.

But it was at Hoylake last month where he highlighted his season in style, holding off the world’s leading boy golfers to become the first Scot in almost a decade to be crowned Boys Amateur champion.

Ferguson defeated Germany’s Michael Hirmer by the resounding score of 10&9 in the 36-hole final to win one of the most coveted titles in the amateur game.

The teenager was then one of four Scots selected for the Great Britain & Ireland side for the prestigious Jacques Leglise Trophy, helping secure a 15-9 win over the Continent of Europe.

“It’s been a really good year,” said Ferguson, who also won the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour Order of Merit in America in 2012. “I felt confident over the winter and worked hard in the gym to get stronger.

“I also did a lot of work with my coach, Gregor Monks, on my swing and I felt comfortable. When you post good finishes early in the season, it gives you confidence and I pushed on from there.

“Winning the British Boys was a great feeling. I just played really well the whole week and holed a lot of putts. I really thrived in front of the big crowds too.”

Scottish Schools champion Connor Syme (Dumfries & County) was over 600 points behind Ferguson as runner-up in the Boys’ rankings, with Tantallon’s Calum Hill rewarded for his solid play in third.

Scottish Boys winner Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie) finished fourth overall, with Glencruitten’s Robert MacIntyre, twice a national champion in 2013, in fifth spot.

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