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Web com : Dornoch boy Gunn ready to fire next round in climb to the top

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02/10/2017 | 06:18pm CET

Disappointed with his showing out on the Pacific island of Hawaii, Jimmy Gunn's next outing on the Web.com tour took him a bit nearer to his native Dornoch Firth – the Bahamas!

There he gave an interview to the Web.com tour press officer after his best-ever finish on this American satellite tour which sits just below the lucrative full USPGA Tour.

Gunn, now sporting a new look facial beard, was playing in the Bahamas in the Great Aboca Classic where the Dornoch-born exile found himself with a great chance to win, his first time in this position on the Web.com Tour.

The interviewer asked him about his home and background and in particular who did he think of most in the balmy breezes?

Back came the answer, his grandfather, Donald Urquhart, an 11-time club champion at Golspie Golf Club and a three-time winner of the Sutherland County Cup.

Jimmy was five when he started following his Granda Urquhart around Golspie, but that was 31 years ago.

At 36, the pressure of 10 years in professional golf without a breakthrough started hitting Gunn in the restart of the third round. Forty strokes in those nine holes turned a five-stroke lead into a two-stroke deficit to Andrew Landry, a Cinderella of last year's US Open going into the final round. Gunn said his Granda always told him: "First of all, never give up."

With that in the back of his head, Gunn showed his tough Scottish temperament and shot 68 to finish third behind Landry. Knowing how proud his grand father would be after his best Web.com Tour finish, and after picking up his third place cheque for $67,320 (£53,000), Gunn flew home to Arizona in an attempt to qualify for last weekend's PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Speaking from Fort Lauderdale he said: "Where I'm from, nobody has ever made it as a professional golfer, so the odds are stacked against you. You can't go through the school system playing golf and with Scottish weather, it's only a half season. It's a very hard road to become a professional golfer, especially a tour player."

Growing up without privilege established a base line for Gunn's career. He worked on an oil rig as a teenager. In his early 20s he made £40 a loop caddying at Royal Dornoch and supplemented that income working as his father's apprentice in the carpentry business. Following in Urquhart's footsteps, Gunn won the club championship at Dornoch four times and the club's biggest open tournament, the Carnegie Shield, in 2006.

As written in Donald Urquhart's obituary in the Northern Times, there was no prouder man than he when Jimmy won the County Cup and later the Carnegie Shield at Dornoch.

Caddying allowed Gunn the opportunity to meet Todd Warnock, eventual owner of the Links House Hotel in Dornoch and partner, with Mike Keiser, in the Coul Links project at Embo. On his first trip to Dornoch, Warnock was assigned a character all dressed in black, smoking self-rolled cigarettes. As they walked to Warnock's shot on the third fairway, Todd asked Jimmy if he was a golfer.

"I'm the club champion," was the response. Wanting to know if Gunn was for real, the Chicago investor took a ball from his bag, handed Gunn a 4-iron and asked if would hit a shot. The sound of the compression was unforgettable, as was the ball flight.

With that, Gunn tossed the club back to Warnock and said: "A four-time club champion."

It was that self-belief that sold Warnock. Getting closer over the course of the next few days, Warnock asked Gunn if he was familiar with the Scottish alternative-rock band Del Amitri and its song Move Away Jimmy Blue, about a young Scottish Boy who gets swallowed up by his home town.

On their final day together, realising the tough life Gunn experienced growing up, Warnock told Gunn: "You're not going to be on the PGA Tour being the club champ at Dornoch."

With Warnock as his first sponsor, Gunn based himself in Scottsdale, Arizona, playing state opens and the Gateway Tour until qualifying for the Web.com in 2014.

He missed keeping his card by a stroke and was without a true home tour after going through two stages of qualifying and a play-off to make the field in the 2015 US Open.

At Chambers Bay, Gunn was on the range hitting balls next to Rory McIlroy. He finished T-5 in putting and T-1 with 18 birdies to tie the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, with a T-27 finish. He said: "Coming from a small town like Dornoch, you have to follow your dreams."

Those dreams are alive for Jimmy after the Bahamas.

© Copyright 2017 Scottish Provincial Press Ltd., All rights reserved., source Newspapers

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