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MacRae set for a return to the old routine

 

Turn the clock back a year and playing in the final of a national PGA championship was akin to a day at the office for Heather MacRae, writes Adrian Milledge.

It was part of the routine that had seen the 35-year-old represent Scotland at every level as an amateur, play in 60-plus Ladies European Tour events and twice win the Women’s PGA Championship.

Her participation in next week’s Golfbreaks.com PGA Fourball Championship final will be anything but a day at the office, however.

The tournament will be her first since undergoing major surgery in mid-June to rid her of the cervical cancer that was diagnosed in March.

And never mind it being her first competitive outing, it will, as near as dammit, be her first round of golf.

“I played my first five holes on a proper golf course today,” she said, nine days before she and her fellow PGA Professional and fourball partner Craig Lee are due to tee off at Farleigh Golf Club in Surrey.

“And I hope to play 18 holes for the first time at the weekend.”

Being fit to take part in the popular PGA tournament with her friend and compatriot was one of the post-surgery goals she set herself. Nevertheless, the PGA pro who is attached to Stirling Golf Club, has adopted a softly, softly approach on the road to making a full recovery.

“I have been really cautious,” she explained. “I don’t want anything to knock me back. I didn’t hit a driver until a couple of days ago but I have practised my short game.”

She anticipates, however, that any issues she encounters will not be ring rustiness but fatigue.

“It’s more just feeling tired that gets me,” admitted MacRae. “The surgeon said a few weeks ago I would be fine just swinging the club and building things up.

“But feeling exhausted after nine-holes on a mini course has been difficult to get my head round. It doesn’t feel as you’re doing that much but it kind of wipes you out.

“I did some work with the Scotland team in the Home Internationals a couple of weeks ago and we walked the course before the matches.

“It was the most I’d done since the operation and I was absolutely exhausted. I spent the rest of the week riding round in a buggy.

“As far as next week is concerned, I’ll be fine. I don’t feel stressed about it because it’s fourball.

“If I get tired over the last few holes, I have a good partner. Hopefully he’ll carry me most of the way and I’ll try and help where I can.”

MacRae and Lee will be in a 60-strong field vying for a portion of the £33,250 prize purse. They will be joined by defending champions Jack Winer and Jack Watts and the duos that finished second and third at Belton Woods last year.

Adam Keogh and Michael Reed lost in a play-off against Winer and Watts, and Michael Watson and Richard O’Hanlon were third having been runners up in 2017.