Byrne gets early taste of pro tour

ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT NORTHERN OPEN.''PICTURED JAMES BYRNE ON THE 8TH TEE''PIC ROSS JOHNSTON / NEWSLINE SCOLTAND''***NOTE THIS PICTURE IS SENT OUT ON BEHALF OF ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT AND IS FREE TO USE****
ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT NORTHERN OPEN.''PICTURED JAMES BYRNE ON THE 8TH TEE''PIC ROSS JOHNSTON / NEWSLINE SCOLTAND''***NOTE THIS PICTURE IS SENT OUT ON BEHALF OF ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT AND IS FREE TO USE****

Banchory’s James Byrne announced that he has turned professional after signing with sports, fashion and media company, IMG.

The announcement comes just a week after Byrne played a key role in Great Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup victory over the United States.

Byrne, born in England but brought up in Deeside, picked up two points from his three matches against the Americans and described the Walker Cup win as being part of the best week of his life.

Good times almost certainly lie ahead for the 22 year-old with a recent top-30 (T26) finish in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles underlying the youngster’s golfing pedigree.

A graduate from Arizona State University, James enjoyed a successful amateur career including wins at the 2007 Scottish Boys’ Strokeplay Championship and four wins on the Scottish Order of Merit circuit.

Last year Byrne finished runner-up in the Amateur Championship and in recognition of a fruitful season, James was awarded Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year 2010.

James will make his professional debut at the ALLIANZ Golf Open du Grand Toulouse on the European Challenge Tour this week, with hopes of featuring in a full European Tour event before launching his bid to secure a Tour card at the first stage of the Q-School in Portugal next month.

Deals have already been agreed with the Craig Group and Titleist which will allow James to focus on making the perfect start to his pro career.

The Banchory and Inchmarlo member is ready to be tested at the highest level on a regular basis.

Byrne said: “The Walker Cup was the perfect stepping stone into the professional ranks and it seems to be the perfect time to make the move.

“With my recent performances, including the Johnnie Walker Championship, I feel like I’m ready to compete against the guys on Tour and for me, IMG is the perfect fit.

“I’m delighted to be joining their team and look forward to working with them as I continue my journey.”

He added: “I’m really grateful to have been invited to play in Toulouse this week, it’s a nice opportunity to get my pro career up and running and hopefully with a good performance I will secure an invite onto the main tour before Q-School.

“It would be great to play at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship next week so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an invite.

“Thanks also to my new sponsors, Titleist and the Craig Group; they will be a huge asset in my progression within the game, without them it would be difficult so I am really thankful for their support.”

“I would also like to express my gratitude to the Scottish Golf Union for the tremendous support they have given to me since I was selected to join their national boys’ squad six years ago.

“The R&A also deserve huge credit for the work they do for amateur golf.”

James will be co-managed by Duncan Reid in London and John Murray in Edinburgh.

They will be assisted by Marie Claire-Prust.

Duncan Reid, who will be part of Byrne’s management team, is looking forward to working with the Walker Cup star.

He said: ‘“Successful times certainly lie ahead for James and we are very pleased to be working with such a professional, appealing and determined young man.

“His golfing ability speaks for itself and hopefully we can help James reach his potential sooner rather than later.”