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Another Rory setting his sights high

Rory Franssen is one of the new breed of young Scottish golfers making their way up the professional ladder, and he is hoping this will prove to be a significant year for his ambitions.

Rory will join the 13-event Tartan Pro Tour this year, beginning on May 1 at Kilmarnock Barassie, hoping to top the Tour’s Order of Merit and automatically secure a Challenge Tour playing card for 2024.

His pursuit of a career in golf, he says, has been helped enormously by the experience he derived from being called up to play as an amateur in the 2021 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, one of the biggest events on the European Tour.

Rory, 24, said: “Scottish Golf, which receives support from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, offered me the chance to play, which was amazing. I really loved it. I’ve played in some interesting events, but that was the only time I’ve played in a DP World Tour championship and it was unbelievable.

“It’s a very special event as well, with the format. With the pro’s playing it’s a big occasion, but with the celebrities there, it makes it a bit more relaxed maybe. Playing at home on the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, three amazing golf courses, it was something I’ll never forget.

“I played with Portuguese pro Ricardo Santos, and we had some really cool pairings over the three days. First day was with Connor Syme and Piers Morgan. Connor first played as an amateur in the event like me, after coming through the Scottish Golf system.

“I’ll always remember the 11th hole at Kingsbarns in the first round. I hit a good drive down and walked up to the ball. Piers Morgan had hit his second shot and was walking to his ball, 60 yards beyond mine, and he gave me such a hard time about outdriving me. He conveniently forgot it was his second shot. We had a real laugh about it.

“I turned pro last year and I was basically focusing on the Tartan Tour events and went to the Q-School but unfortunately didn’t make it, so this year I’ll play just the Scottish Tour again, and the goal is to get a Challenge Tour card that way.”

Rory is one of many talented young Scottish pro’s who have come through and says there is a good feeling in Scottish golf at the moment.

“I feel over the past five years it’s really kicked on – there’s a lot of them doing well,” said. “Obviously Bob MacIntyre’s been playing well, there’s Ewen Ferguson, who’s had an amazing season, so yes it’s really encouraging to see that, especially when you’re young and seeing them play. They’ve gone on to be really successful, so it makes you realise it’s possible to do the same.”

Rory spent five years on a golf scholarship at the University of Missouri and says he loved every second of it. “It was such an amazing school, big sports scene, American football, basketball, that kind of thing. They were all really supported, and the golf as well, and we had the opportunity to travel all over. It was brilliant.”

Over the years, through Scottish Golf’s performance programmes for young golfers, supported in part by funds received from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, Rory, like many others, has been able to benefit on several occasions. Each winter there is a trip for young Scottish golfers to go on warm weather training and play competitively in South Africa.

When he was 17, before he went to the United States, he was a member of the group that went there, during which he won the Proudfoot Trophy, which was a qualifier for the South African Matchplay Championship. He also went to Dubai for a few weeks training with the likes of Ewen Ferguson, Grant Forrest and Connor Syme.

In 2022 he went to South Africa again, where he reached the final of the South African Amateur Championship, only losing 4&2 in the 36-hole final to Kyle de Beer.

Rory recalled: “I just didn’t quite have enough. Trying to hold it together for so many days in a row was tough, but it was an amazing week. Experiencing competition like that really helps to make me the player I am today.”