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Ambitious Gunn taking aim for his shot at glory

School teachers eh?

Jimmy Gunn is chasing a place in the lucrative US PGA circuit after joining the Web.com Tour
Jimmy Gunn is chasing a place in the lucrative US PGA circuit after joining the Web.com Tour

If they are not jabbing you in the neck with a piece of chalk as they mock your pitiful attempts at solving a quadratic equation then they are trampling over your dreams with the crushing nonchalance of an elephant clumping into a hen coop.

"My old guidance teacher had once told my mum that 'your son has got it in to his head that he wants to be a professional golfer'," recalled Jimmy Gunn. "My mum said 'he's quite good' but the teacher said 'well it's probably not going to happen, he'll need to think of something else'."

What is that old saying about the man havering on that it can't be done and being interrupted by someone doing it? A few years after being shot down, 2013 was a season for all Gunns blazing.

Outside his native Dornoch, the Arizona-based professional may not be the most well-kent golfing Scot but he is slowly making a name for himself. In 2014, the 33-year-old will play on the Web.com Tour, just one tier down from the promised land of the money-soaked US PGA circuit inhabited by Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and company. In the wake of the American tour's heid honchos binning the qualifying school, the Web.com Tour is now the primary route to the top table and this Gunn has his sights set on making it there.

"Coming from a small town like Dornoch, you have to follow your dreams," he insisted. "Don't let people say you can't do this or can't do that. I finished school at 16. I worked on oil rigs for two years then worked with my dad building private homes for three years. But I'd been playing golf since I was four or five.

"My late granddad, who was a Dornoch club champion 11 times and a county champion three times, got me into it. I think he'd be very proud."

A multiple club champion himself at Dornoch and twice the leading amateur in the Tartan Tour's Northern Open, Gunn made the plunge into the professional ranks in 2007 and swapped Sutherland for the sunshine of the States. "It was a bit of a gamble coming out here but I was fortunate with some sponsorship," admitted Gunn, who also credited the valuable assistance of his parents in those formative stages as well as a lasting relationship between his home town club in the Highlands and the Circling Raven resort on the Couer d'Alene Indian reservation.

"There can't be many Scottish golfers that have been backed by Indians," he added with a smile. "A group of us from Dornoch went over to Circling Raven back in 2005 for a match and the relationship has continued. They did a lot for me when I first moved to the States and I'll never forget it."

In between travelling back and forth on a 90-day visitor visa, before being granted a more permanent status, Gunn chipped away on a variety of mini-circuits but made some serious inroads last year on the All American Gateway Tour.

"I won twice, lost in two play-offs, was second four or five times and finished outside the top-10 on maybe just four occasions," noted Gunn. It was during the arduous process of the Web.com Tour's qualifying school, though, when Gunn really showed his mettle and came through all three stages, including a six-round final, to earn his stripes.

Now he is reaching for the stars and looking to join his countrymen, Martin Laird and Russell Knox, among the big hitters. The top 25 at the end of the campaign will earn promotion to the main PGA Tour and the confident, ambitious Gunn is relishing the challenge. His good friend and fellow Highlander Knox served his apprenticeships on the US mini-tours before earning promotion to the top tier for the 2012 season and regaining his playing rights for the current campaign. These two largely unheralded northern lads have come a long way.

"I played amateur golf for the North with Russell but being this far up the country we sometimes felt we never got much of a look in with the Scottish Golf Union," said Gunn. "Seeing a friend have success really helps your frame of mind.

"Now I'm on the Web.com Tour, I'm setting the bar high. The top 25 is the target and is very achievable. But there are two chances at getting a PGA Tour ranking and those players from 26 to 75 on the money list go into the end of year play-offs. I know that if my game is on, then I will be able to compete no problem."

This Gunn is clearly ready for his shot at glory.

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