With a fearless display of poise and purpose, Grant Forrest secured his maiden European Tour title in the Hero Open at the Fairmont St Andrews last night.

On a tense, tumultuous day at the sharp end of the leaderboard, which must have had the greenkeepers sweeping up bits of nibbled fingernails as the nerves jangled, Forrest kept his cool and birdied his final two holes to pip the valiant James Morrison by a single shot.

The 28-year-old’s closing six-under 66 gave him a 24-under total and led to the North Berwick-based golfer becoming the first Scotsman to win a European Tour event on Scottish soil since Paul Lawrie triumphed in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012.

“They’re greetin’ their eyes out over there,” said Forrest as he glimpsed his family behind the 18th green before embracing them in a highly emotional moment. The outpouring was understandable. 

Forrest’s greatest supporter, his dad Graeme, lost his fight with cancer back in 2012, just three weeks before his son won the Scottish Amateur Championship. He would have been mightily proud of this compelling, composed and thoroughly deserved triumph.

“Losing my dad in 2012 was a big change in our lives,” reflected Forrest after becoming the first Scottish winner of the 2021 European Tour campaign. “We’ve all dealt with it in different ways. I think I’ve just put a lot into golf. I wish he was here to see this, he’d be so chuffed. He’s been the big inspiration and a lot of the reason why I’ve really knuckled down and kept going when times were tough.”

Forrest had been sharing the lead with his fellow Scot, Calum Hill, heading into the final round but found himself playing catch up as he leaked a shot on the second and Hill covered his first six holes in four-under with a telling early thrust.

There would be plenty of twists and turns to come, though, in a fascinating battle that had more ding-dong than a bell ringing recital.

Forrest’s superb tee-shot to within three-feet of the par-3 eighth spawned a birdie to keep him well in the mix before affairs began to unravel around the turn. Out of nowhere, Hill three-putted the ninth then got in a wayward guddle on the 10th, had to take a drop from a bush and racked up a crippling double-bogey six which punctured his ambitions. 

When Forrest birdied that same hole, he suddenly found himself three strokes ahead and he fortified his position of authority on the very next hole with a superbly flighted tee-shot to set up another birdie two. Now four clear, it was a case of catch me if you can.

Englishman Morrison, a two-time tour winner, was certainly giving it a go and a rousing run of five birdies in a row from the 11th kept Forrest on his toes. Another Scot, David Law, was also lurking menacingly and three birdies in a row on his back nine upped the ante. His challenge ran out of steam with a bogey on the 16th but Morrison continued to pose a major threat.

Forrest holed a brave putt for his par on 14 to keep his nose in front but when the Scot three-putted the 16th to drop into a tie for the lead, Morrison’s birdie up ahead on 18 in charging nine-under 63 hoisted the inspired Englishman to the front for the first time.

Forrest’s response was one of a champion, though. A bold 9-iron to three-feet on the short 17th led to a vital birdie which drew him level before a mighty 2-iron to the back of the 18th green left him with two-putts from 30-feet for the title. He finished the job off with nerveless aplomb.

"There are so many emotions," said the former Walker Cup player, who had three runners-up finishes on the second-tier Challenge Tour and six-top 10s on the main circuit prior to this breakthrough. "To win on the European Tour is what I’ve always dreamed of.”

With Morrison taking second, Spain’s Santiago Tarrio birdied two of his last three holes in a 68 to grab third on 21-under with Law (68) and Hill (70) sharing fourth on 20-under.