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Jones backs American tycoon to come up trumps with Aberdeenshire project

The trumpeting by Donald Trump that he would create "the world's greatest golf course" may have brought withering sneers from some sceptics, but Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA, believes the American tycoon's Aberdeenshire project will, indeed, become a global leader.

Jones, along with his European Tour counterpart George O’Grady, visited the £750m project on the Menie estate ahead of the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen recently and the Scot is confident that the Martin Hawtree-designed Trump International Golf Links, which is to open for business next summer, will be ready for tournament play in as little as three years’ time.

“When I went there last November, I was amazed by the site,” said Jones. “I remember going out on the course, which was just staked out at the time, with one of Martin Hawtree’s men and I shook his hand and said ‘you can only mess this up. God has laid this out and the shapes were so natural.’ I could remember every hole on that course and it wasn’t even laid out.

“For me, that was a good starting point. I went back the other week and it looked magnificent. If it’s not in the top three places in the world, then I’ll be surprised.

“If he gets it open in 2012, I think 2014 is the sensible time to consider having a tournament there. Going early is a big mistake. The Belfry went too early in the 1970s: Brian Barnes called it a potato field in those days; it was far too early. This course will mature very quickly and to take it to tournament standard, particularly in north-east Scotland, I’d say give it another 24 months.”

Trump has already stated his intention of making a bid for the 2022 Ryder Cup and Jones is quite confident that those lofty ambitions can be achieved.

He added: “I said that if he built the course to the spec I was seeing at that time, he would lay down the gauntlet for those of us, in our case the Ryder Cup, and the R&A for the Open, to have a choice to make as to ‘do we want to take the event there?’ The course will certainly be capable of hosting any major event.”

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