IN the home of golf, we may yet get a home winner. There has not been a Scottish champion in a European Tour event on Scottish turf since Paul Lawrie won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012.

Nearly a decade on, Grant Forrest, Calum Hill and David Law are at the vanguard of a sustained offensive by the tartan army in the Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews. Forrest and Hill share the lead on 18 under while Law is lurking in fourth, just two shots behind his pacesetting countrymen.

Shoe-horned in among the saltires is Spain’s Santiago Tarrio on 17-under. It is shaping up to be a cracking final day. Forrest certainly got cracking in round three. With a fearsome charge that could have featured a fixed bayonet and a battle cry, the 28-year-old blasted a thrilling 10-under 62 to barge his way to the head of the field.

It was a wonderfully assembled round even if a bogey on the first hole offered little evidence of the fireworks to come. “It wasn’t an ideal start,” he said with a wry grin.

That early stumble was swiftly rectified, however, and after a birdie on the third, Forrest traumatised the Torrance Course with an assault that could have got him done for GBH. From the sixth, the Scot reeled off six birdies in a row and just missed a magnificent seven when a chance on 12 flirted with the hole.

Normal service was resumed with further gains at 13 and 15 before the inspired Forrest unleashed two mighty blows with the driver into the teeth of the wind on the par-5 18th and got up-and-down for a closing birdie.

It was a terrific effort and one which thrust the former Scottish Amateur champion closer to a maiden European Tour title.

“It was one of those days,” beamed Forrest. “I changed my putting grip for round three and made just about everything. I’d played nicely the first couple of days but didn’t get anything going. The change of grip, to a leftbelow-right, made a big difference.”

Forrest’s 2021 campaign has been a mixed bag. A share of fourth in the Irish Open has been the stand-out result but now he is on course to eclipse that.

“I’ve been feeling confident with my game and just trusting that the good scores will come along eventually,” he added of this patient approach.

Forrest was joined at the top by compatriot Hill, who birdied the last hole in a 67. The 26-year-old had been leading the Scottish challenge heading into the third round and was two behind 36-hole pacesetter Lucas Bjerregaard. That quickly changed, though, when the Dane staggered to a doublebogey on the second and Hill birdied to move one ahead.

Hill, who has a couple of topfour finishes on the tour this season, fortified his position at the summit with an eagle on the third and further birdies at six and seven. With Forrest going ballistic ahead of him, Hill leaked his first shot of the week on the 10th and then missed a short putt on the 14th to spill another. He steadied the ship on the run-in, though, and two more birdies hoisted him into a tie for the lead.

“I played really nicely,” said the three-time Challenge Tour winner. “It was difficult to make putts when it got windy.”

As for a final day shoot-out with his fellow Scots?

“I’m very determined [to win],” he added. “This is what you play for isn’t it?”

While Hill and Forrest chase a first tour win, Law has the experience of winning in his armoury. His breakthrough came in Australia two years ago and while he has struggled to scale those giddy heights again, his form in recent weeks has been trending in the right direction.

“I’ve not been in this position, up there trying to win a golf tournament, for a couple of years,” he said. “But I’ve been playing good golf and I’m comfortable in these situations. This is why we practice and why we play.”

There is plenty to play for today as far as Law, Hill and Forrest are concerned.