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No rest for the mice

At this time of the year, you would expect things in the golfing world to be settling down for a period of hibernation.

No chance. While the 2012 Race to Dubai reached the finishing line with Rory McIlroy's win in the DP World Tour Championship last Sunday, there continues to be issues, incidents and intrigue to keep things bubbling along as we hurtle towards the festive season.

Last week, the top brass at the Royal & Ancient and the United States Golf Association announced plans to ban the controversial process of "anchoring" a club to various parts of the body. Of course, many will argue that if the powers-that-be really wanted to make a difference to the game, then they would tackle the turbo-charged balls and those drivers with heads the size of space helmets that are forcing ridiculous course set-ups and rendering some of the great layouts almost obsolete.

Prior to the anchoring announcement, the R&A and the St Andrews Links Trust unveiled some nips, tucks and tweaks to the Old Course in the build-up to the 2015 Open. Work got under way last weekend but a bandwagon to halt the changes – the most significant being a widening of the famous Road Hole bunker on 17 and the lowering of a portion of the 11th green – is rumbling along with players, pundits and purists venting their displeasure.

Meanwhile, the game roars on. On Thursday in South Africa, the 2013 European Tour season will sputter back into life with the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship. With the big cats away, the mice get the chance to play. The McIlroys, Donalds, Roses, Poulters and Westwoods won't be seen until the new year, when the lucrative Middle East swing gets going, but for those looking to hit the ground running in their bid to establish a firm foothold on the main circuit, this competitive fortnight before Christmas can be crucial. Forget anchored putters and Old Course facelifts, these boys have bigger concerns.

Scott Henry, the double Scottish Boys' champion who was tipped for great things during his junior days, is one of those heading for the Rainbow Nation for back-to-back events. After five years chipping away at the professional coal face, the Clydebank man finally made his breakthrough this season and earned promotion to the main circuit through the Challenge Tour rankings.

The 25-year-old rookie, who illuminated his campaign with victory in the Kazakhstan Open, knows, that having made it to the top tier, the hard task will be to stay there. Three weeks in Dubai before heading south has, by his own ad- mission, been the "best preparation I could've hoped for" and the former Scottish Amateur Strokeplay champion is now relishing the prospect of life among the elite.

"It's going to be my first proper European Tour event but I'm feeling pretty relaxed," said Henry, who served his apprenticeship on the third-tier Alps Tour after joining the paid ranks in 2007.

"A lot of players I played against this year on the Challenge Tour will be there so there's nothing to be scared of. There's more to embrace and look forward to. Competing against the best in Europe? That's been the dream since I started playing golf. It's been a long journey to get here and I've worked hard for it.

"The hard work begins now of course because staying at this level is the next test. But I'll go out and try to win. I don't practise hard and compete just to be average. I play to win and that's the kind of approach I need to continue to adopt."

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