19 Jan 18
PGA Professional Tom Buchanan described rubbing shoulders with World number 1 Dustin Johnson and a host of other stars in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as an ‘incredible experience’.
The Scot from Stranraer, who celebrated his 38th birthday just before the tournament, has been based at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, United Arab Emirates, for the past six years.
He earned his place in the event that also featured Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar, by winning a qualifier for UAE PGA professionals at Saadiyat Beach, Abu Dhabi.
Buchanan, who completed his PGA training under Alastair McLean at Duddingston in Edinburgh, practised with compatriot Stephen Gallacher before playing alongside Englishman Paul Waring and Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia in the tournament.
Cheered every step of the way by a big band of supporters, including McLean and brother-in-law Gregor Munro, Buchanan carded rounds of 74 and 75 for a five-over-par total of 149. That was not sufficient to make the cut but he returned to normal life with his head held high.
"It has been an incredible experience," said Buchanan. "It's something I will never forget, especially having had such a big following here, which was great.
"The size of the crowd seemed to get more and more as the second round went on. They were very vocal and I'm going to go and have a few beers with them now and enjoy the afternoon."
Buchanan had given himself a chance of making it to the weekend after an opening round of two-over that left him ahead of major winners, Ernie Els and Jose Maria Olazabal.
That was still a possibility when he got back to level par for the day by picking up three birdies in four holes at the start of his back nine in the second round. However his chances were wrecked by a double-bogey six five holes from home.
"A sore head and an empty wallet?" he replied, laughing, at being asked what will be his most memorable moments from this week once he returns to work as Al Ain's head professional on Monday.
"The reception at the 18th last night was memorable," added Buchanan. "As was hitting one out of the middle today at hole four and knocking that in for a two. I got a huge roar and that was great."
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