Meet Scotland's newest European Tour star

Liam Johnston

There's going to be a new name flying the Saltire on the European Tour next season.

Liam Johnston effectively punched his ticket to the top tier of European golf after winning one of the Challenge Tour’s most lucrative events of the season.

The 25-year-old from Dumfries started the final round of the Kazakhstan Open one shot off the lead but, after a bogey on the opening hole, the Scot was six-under-par for his final 17 holes to see off Englishman Tom Murray by two strokes.

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In picking up a cheque for €72,000, Johnston – who also won earlier this year on the Challenge Tour when he beat fellow Scot Grant Forrest in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Match Play 9 – has rocketed up to fourth in the tour’s Order of Merit.

Liam Johnston1

It means he’s virtually guaranteed himself a place on the European Tour for next season and he admitted that this season has surpassed all of his expectations.

“I started the season with no category at all, and was just playing off invites,” he said. “That first win was huge for me in taking the step onto the Challenge Tour and it seems like this one’s going to be a huge win in taking a step onto the European Tour.

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“I couldn’t even imagine this was going to happen starting this year in January with the goals that I’d set for myself.”

Come the end of this season, Johnston's presence on Europe's top tier could be all the more significant from a Scottish perspective with a number of the country's seasoned pros struggling in their attempts to retain their cards.

With the top 110 in the Race to Dubai safe for the 2019 season, currently, only four of Scotland's eight pros with full status are in line to keep their cards: Russell Knox (eighth), Stephen Gallacher (87th), David Drysdale (101st) and Scott Jamieson (109th).

Tour rookies Connor Syme (117th) and Bradley Neil (190th), along with Richie Ramsay (125th) and Marc Warren (149th) have just four events - Portugal Masters, Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, British Masters and Andalucia Valderrama Masters - to work their way into the top 110.

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