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C MacAulay

MACAULAY'S RETURN TO THE AMATEUR COULD BE REWARDED AT CRAIL WITH A SECOND SCOTTISH AMATEUR TITLE

by

Bernie McGuire

 Callum Macaulay’s return to the amateur ranks could be spectacularly rewarded at Crail Golfing Society with a second Scottish Amateur Championship title in 11-years.

 Macaulay, 35 brilliantly burst into the last-16 of the Scotland’s premier men’s amateur event thanks to a ‘professional-like’ 4 & 3 win over Royal Aberdeen’s Craig Leith on the Craighead Links course.

 Helping steer Macaulay to hopeful success was the sight of having his father, Harry back on the bag as he had been decades ago.

 Macaulay, and now a proud Ralston Club member, quit the European and secondary Challenge Tour’s in 2016 after an indifferent 63-event career that he ended in missing the cut at the Scottish Hydro Challenge.

 Having served a compulsory two-year hiatus Macaulay, and now married with two sons under the age of five, is now back into the amateur ranks and this week contesting just a second event since his reinstatement in May.

 Eleven years ago, a then 23-year old Scot secured a 5 & 3 victory at Carnoustie and he’s now the man to beat ahead of Saturday afternoon’s final at golf’s seventh oldest club.

 “The main reason I stopped playing professionally was that I couldn’t compete at that level," he said.

 “I had moments when I had great weeks and still finished 30th but it just got to the point where I said to myself, ‘Am I worth just letting this go, and go back to the level I enjoyed’.

 “Even though it’s been a few years, I am starting to enjoy it a little again while nothing substitutes going out and making birdies and finishing decent positions.

 “When you’re battered and bruised and missing cuts every week, it’s a killer”.

 Macaulay sealed victory over Lieth with a 360-degree birdie putt on the par-5 15th at Crail and this after securing a 2up win earlier in the day over St. Andrews Andrew Gibson.

 And since quitting the pro game, Macaulay has joined a Glasgow-based golf recruiting agency looking for talented Scottish golfers to attend US colleges.

 "The two year hiatus I did was something I had to do, to regain my amateur status but it works both ways; it let me come away from the professional game but it also helped me realise I still want to practice and I still want to play," he said.

 "The fact I had nothing to play in actually frustrated me at times. On May 19 I thought, right, let’s play in a medal again.

 "This week, driven the ball really solid, struck the ball really well in the wind, gave myself a lot of good chance sand kept the pressure off my short game. 

  "I made the decision three years ago that I didn’t want to pursue pro golf anymore and it’s been good for me. It was a positive decision but a realistic one as well. And it was for my own sanity and my family’s well being because I could be an angry man at times. 

 "When you’re away spending £3-4k a week and coming home on a Friday night you’ll be miserable. And it’s not fair on anyone else. 

 "So, I thought, let’s just cut ties with. I’ll never lose my love for golf. I’ll enjoy it and see what happens, just go round-by-round."

 And after being out of bed so early, Macaulay said he was going to relax by taking his young family down to nearby Anstruther for a family meal.

 Macaulay now faces Craigielaw’s Angus Carrick in Friday's last-16 encounter.

 Defending champ, Euan McIntosh was eliminated in Thursday morning’s last 32 round of matches losing 1up to St. Andrews John Paterson.