“It is brilliant, magic, awesome.” That was Kris Nicol’s verdict on qualifying for the Scottish Open and it also just about sums up the qualifier for the Aberdeen Standard Investments-sponsored event.
The 36-hole shoot-out was introduced in 2015, when North Berwick staged the inaugural one, and it is now established as one of the best events of the PGA in Scotland season.
Nicol was one of four PGA Professionals to make it through this time, joining Chris Doak in passing the test at Longniddry.
The success capped a good few days for Nicol, who works at Dunes Golf Centre in his home town of Fraserburgh.
“Happy days,” he declared, “as I just found out that I passed my PGA training last week!”
It was the second time that Nicol had come through the ASI Scottish Open qualifier after securing a spot in the field at Castle Stuart in 2016.
Scott Henry and Calum Hill were the two others to qualify on this occasion and they both enjoyed something to remember in the Rolex Series event at The Renaissance Club.
Henry was handed the honour of hitting the opening shot at the first at the East Lothian venue while Hill secured a top-30 finish on his debut in the event.
Boosted by that performance, which included a second-round 64 then a closing 66, the Gleneagles Hotel-attached player claimed his second Challenge Tour triumph the following week in the Euram Bank Open in Austria.
It was the second year running that Longniddry had staged the qualifier, which is supported by both Aberdeen Standard Investments and VisitScotland.
On both days, it generated lots of interest, both on the course itself as spectators took in the action, and also on social media channels.
One of its attractions is that it sees amateurs get the chance to lock horns with professionals and, on this occasion, one of the best rounds over the weekend came from Rory Franssen.
The Auchterarder amateur shot a seven-under-par 61 in the second circuit to set a new course record, which was matched later in the day by Henry.
He picked up the £5,000 top prize in the PGA Scotland Order of Merit event after beating Hill with a birdie at the second extra hole in a sudden-death play-off.