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NAIRN READY AS THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN

More than 250 of the world’s best young golfers arrive in the Highlands next week for a major international tournament that helped launch the careers of Major champions Rory McIllroy, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal.

The R&A, golf’s governing body, are making final preparations at The Nairn Golf Club for the prestigious Boys Amateur Championship, an event last staged there in 1989.

The 91st Boys Amateur event, held annually for golfers under 18, will be staged from 15-20 August with a 252-strong field from 28 countries. The nearby Nairn Dunbar course will jointly host the qualifying rounds for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia won the event, aged 17, in 1997 and his fellow Spaniard and Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal took the title in 1983. Other Major winners Rory McIllroy, Sandy Lyle, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer have all played in the event.

This year, 362 entries were received and 110 players are on the reserve list. Players, who must be in the 0.1 handicap category (5 or less), have entered from across Europe and also from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.

This year’s field includes 2016 finalists, Falko Hanisch, from Germany, who defeated Spain’s Alejandro Aguilera on the 37th hole at Muirfield.

Being awarded the event by the R&A is further recognition of the quality of Nairn’s renowned links course. Last year the Moray Firth course hosted the Home Internationals event and it has also staged the Walker Cup in 1999 and the Curtis Cup in 2012.

Nairn is part of Highland Golf Links (HGL), a partner organisation that promotes golf tourism packages in the Highlands. Other internationally-renowned courses Castle Stuart and Royal Dornoch are also part of HGL, along with luxury hotels, the Kingsmills and Culloden House in Inverness and the Royal Golf in Dornoch.

Fraser Cromarty, CEO at The Nairn Golf Club and chairman of HGL, said: “The arrival of the R&A has started the countdown for this major golfing event in earnest. We are really looking forward to seeing the elite of boys’ golf in action and to showcase our renowned links course and the Highlands in general.

“The influx of so many golfers from around the world, as well as their caddies, families and friends, will also generate an economic spin-off for the town and surrounding area.”