EUROPEAN Tour winner Grant Forrest has described his late father as “the big inspiration” after taking victory at Fairmont St Andrews.

The Haddington golf star held off a charge from Englishman James Morrison to become the first Scot to win an event on the European Tour in Scotland for nearly a decade on Sunday evening when he clinched the Hero Open.

Fittingly, the victory came in the same week as dad Graeme would have turned 59, with his birthday last Tuesday.

Forrest also won the Scottish Amateur Championship at Royal Dornoch Golf Club in 2012, just weeks after his dad’s death from cancer.

“There’s so many emotions,” said the tournament winner on Sunday evening.

“To do it in front of everyone that’s come up to support me – the last year and a half has been a real challenge, on and off the course. We’ve been through quite a lot as a family.

“To do it here it’s what I’ve always dreamed of to win a European Tour event.

“Losing my dad in 2012 was a big change in our lives.

“It’s not an easy thing to deal with and we’ve all dealt with it in different ways.

“I think I’ve just put a lot into golf and obviously wish he was here to see this; he would be so chuffed.

“He’s been the big inspiration and a lot of the reason that I’ve really knuckled down and kept going when times were tough.

“It will take a while to sink in. I’m just delighted.”

Forrest started playing golf as a youngster alongside his father.

Since then, he has gone on to play the sport across the world.

He told the Courier: “He took up the game when I was four or five.

“He did not start playing golf till later on and he got hooked on it pretty quickly.

“I just basically tagged along to the drive range, got group lessons and got started that way.

“I think he played off about nine or 10 and just loved it.”

Forrest, 28, grew up in Livingston before the family moved east to Aberlady and then Archerfield.

The former Stewart’s Melville College pupil played college golf at the University of San Diego before turning professional in late 2016.

Since victory on Sunday, Forrest, who now lives in Haddington, has enjoyed plenty of people getting in touch to congratulate him on the triumph, which came in front of family and friends, including mum Audrey, sister Alisa and girlfriend Christy Farrell.

East Lothian Courier: Grant Forrest, pictured with girlfriend Christy Farrell, enjoyed his first-ever European Tour win. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire

Grant Forrest celebrates with girlfriend Christy Farrell. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire

He said: “It has been so nice. I have had hundreds of messages and I am just trying to go through them all.

“It is just great to have all the support and all the family up for the tournament as well.”

Forrest’s home club, Craigielaw GC, near Aberlady, were delighted with his success.

Jonathan Porteous, assistant GM and director of golf at the club, has known Forrest for more than a decade.

He said: “He deserves it. He works so hard at it and when he was here he was always on the range, always looking to improve, dedicated himself and he was an integral part of the golf club as a junior.

“He was part of the team that won the British Championships in Spain and he has learnt to play a different style of golf when he moved here from West Lothian.

“He was a lovely kid and turned into a very, very well-mannered nice man and obviously deserves it with the hard work he has put in.

“The membership here are very proud and on Monday there were a lot of nice positive comments about his win and it was a fantastic way to win.

“I was very impressed how he closed that tournament out.”

Paul McLennan, East Lothian’s MSP, was “delighted” for the county golfer; he plans to highlight the achievement in the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “Grant’s maiden win is particularly exciting as it’s great to see the first Scottish golfer winning on home soil since Paul Lawrie’s win at Gleneagles the best part of a decade ago.

“I know how thrilled Grant and his family will be with this huge win. You’ve made all of East Lothian extremely proud and I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your budding career. Enjoy the celebrations.”

Provost John McMillan, East Lothian Council’s spokesman for tourism and economic development, described the victory as “a remarkable achievement”. He said: “It was great his family could go and support him to mark the celebrations.”