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Forrest and McGee keen to continue their good form in Portugal

Scotland's Grant Forrest and Ireland's Ruaidhri McGee will look to take advantage of the absence of Europe's biggest stars after earning their place in the Open de Portugal.

While 48 of the world's top 50 are among the field for the £8million Players Championship at Sawgrass, Forrest and McGee will compete for a prize fund of just £420,000 at Morgado Golf Resort.

However, with a valuable European Tour exemption also up for grabs in an event co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, both men will be keen to continue their good form after top-five finishes in the Turkish Airlines Challenge secured their spot in the field.

"I'm definitely feeling confident after Turkey," said Forrest, 23, who was part of the victorious 2015 Walker Cup team. "I had a top five there and didn't feel like I putted all that well, so it's good to know I can compete at this level and there are a lot of positives to take going forward.

"It's changed my outlook for the year because I don't have a very good category and am slightly relying on invites, so if I can get a few really good finishes it's a big boost, and two or three good weeks can then change everything for the rest of the season.

"I was really fortunate last year to play five Challenge Tour events. That really opened my eyes and made me realise you have to make lots of birdies out here and that helped me prepare for this year and hit the ground running.

"The biggest difference I've found is just the mindset, just to keep making birdies. When you get to three under par you've got to target six, seven, eight under, whereas in amateur golf often level par is pretty good."

McGee made the most of a sponsor's invite to finish fourth in Turkey in his first Challenge Tour event of the season, and the 26-year-old is hoping to use some "local knowledge" to his advantage in Portimao.

"I've been down here for a bit of the winter practising, so I know the courses and the surrounding area pretty well," he said. " It's really handy to get here from home, the weather is great and the people here are also really friendly, so it is a great place to come over the winter.

"I think this event is a bigger event but you can't treat it any differently," he said. "You've got to go in the same way and just do what you do normally - that's play golf."


From Belfast Telegraph