Scott Gregory celebrated his call-up to represent England at the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico next month by finishing in 42nd place on his European Tour Challenge Tour debut.
Corhampton’s British amateur champion – who is in the three-man World Amateur Team Championship side tasked with claiming the Eisenhower for the first time since England, Scotland and Wales entered separate squads back in 2002 – fired a total of 17 birdies over the four rounds at Heythrop Park, in the Bridgestone Invitational.
Fresh from making the second round of the US Amateur on his debut, which forced him to miss England retaining the Home Internationals at Nairn earlier in the month, Gregory was clearly on a high as he teed it up at the picturesque country estate near Chipping Norton.
After a bogey, par, par, start at the first, the Great Britain & Ireland player fired off six birdies in seven holes to climb his way up the leaderboard.
And he never looked back until the final few holes on Sunday.
The 21-year-old, from Waterlooville, followed up a first round 68 with a bogey-free three-under par 69 on Friday.
Saturday is dubbed moving day on tour but Gregory found himself, along with the rest of the field, hauled off the course after thunderclouds rolled their way across the county and remained lurking for the rest of the day.
The Hampshire ace came off the course after just five holes, having shot five-under.
But with no further play possible that day, he was up at 4.30am on Sunday to prepare for a 7.15am start when he played the remaining 13 holes before a redraw for the final 18 that afternoon.
He finished the third round on nine-under which left him in a share of 23rd place, having made four bogeys and one double in the first three rounds.
He got to the turn in one-over before a birdie at the 10th but took four at the par-three 13th and a six at the 16th to finish on three-over.
Gregory is confident the experience will help him get ready for next year’s challenges, including a probable appearance at the Masters, and his debut in the US Open in June.
He said: ‘I’m not far off, it’s just experience at that level I think.
‘If I had my A-game I would have probably been 10 to 14 shots better just through hitting it closer and having easier birdie putts.
‘I made up and down from 40 to 100 yards 12 times, which is a good stat, and I picked up one or two shots a round on the field through my putting.’
Gregory finished 23 shots behind Belgian prospect Tomas Detry, who was a staggering 12 shots clear of the field which featured 11 players who appeared for Great Britain & Ireland in the last three Walker Cups.
– ANDREW GRIFFIN