Warm Welcome For Scottish Duo Though Uninviting New Season Start In Joburg Open

Scotland’s newest Tour stars Liam Johnston and Craig Howie recieved a warm welcome onto the newly-named DP World Tour but it was a rather uninviting start for the pair on day one at the co-sanctioned Joburg Open in the South African capital.

Johnston and Howie earned full 2021/22 wraparound Tour status by virtue of recently finishing top-20 on the recently concluded secondary Challenge Tour.

Johnston, 25, easily secured his card finishing eighth on the money list whereas the 27-year-old Peebles-based Howie needed to birdie the last to wrap-up 19th place and earn his card.

However, on a day when lightning brought an abrupt halt to play the Tartan rookie pair are already staring at missing the cut in their opening event of their rookie season.

Johnston has just one birdie but also five bogeys and an 11th quadruple bogey in an eight-over par 79 while Howie, who was four-over after just three holes, posted an eagle ‘3’ along with six bogeys and double-bogey in a 77.

Liam Johnston and Craig Howie – Making their full member DP World debut this week at the Joburg Open

Ahead of the event Richie Ramsay and David Drysdale, and the only other Scots in the field, voiced their support for the rookie pair.

Ramsay, who shot a level par 71, said: “It’s been great this week to welcome Liam and Craig as full members on the main tour.

“They’be been smart in the way they set out securing their main Tour cards, having stuck with the Challenge Tour and each making the big move on the back of their strong showings on the Challenge Tour.

“I’m yet to play alongside them in competition but they clearly have a lot of talent and it’s another great boost for Scottish golf with another two on the main tour.

“The good thing is having a good number of Scots as we now have there’s guys like Stevie (Gallacher), Scott (Jamieson), David (Drysdale) and myself who’ve been out here a good few years, and they can ask questions, if they choose, and play practice rounds together and just things like going out to dinner that will add to helping them settle onto the main Tour.

“The thing is the faster you learn, the easier it is out here”.

Drysdale, also with a 71, has returned to one of his favourite destinations and will play all three South African events prior to Christmas and after retaining 2021/22 Tour membership by securing the 121st and last automatic qualifying spot. This new season marks ‘Double D’s’ 20th anniversary since his first season in 2002 and that commenced in South Africa.

And as now the second oldest Scot on the Tour behind Stevie Gallacher, Dyrsdale also was delighted to welcome Johnston and Howie.

Drysdale said: “Absolutely, it was great news Liam and Craig earned their tour cards but then it’s been nice in recent years see the likes of Bob (MacIntyre), Calum (Hill), Grant (Forrest) and Davie Law now out here, and with all four having won a first Tour title.

“The great thing also is they’re all nice lads and it means we are going to have this new season seven or eight guys under-30 which is great for the future of Scottish men’s professional golf.

“So, the more Scots out here, the merrier”.

The duo of England’s Ashley Chesters and Spaniard Angel Hidaldo headed the Joburg field with six-under par 65s when darkness halted play leaving some 50 players to compete their first round

And South African J C Ritchie aced the par three 17th but missing out on the keys to a F-4 Jaguar on offer for the first ace over the closing two rounds.

 



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