Ferguson was still on the Challenge Tour this time last year but, with a step up to the main tour virtually secured, he accepted an invitation to play at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns in the $5 million pro-am.
With Brad Simpson, the lead singer of The Vamps as his amateur partner, the former Scottish and British Boys’ champion opened with a 65 on the Old Course and, despite that sore finish back there for the final round, finished in a tie for 17th.
He’s since won twice in his rookie season on the DP World Tour, having made the breakthrough in the Qatar Masters in March then adding the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland in August, and is excited to be have a Dunhill Links date again this week and not under the radar on this occasion.
“Yeah, it definitely did,” replied the 26-year-old to being asked if the confidence he’d taken from that encouraging Dunhill debut had been important in his exciting journey over the past 12 months. “It kind of kick-started me to feel comfortable straight away when I eventually got my main tour card.
“The only way I was going to play here last year was if I had my card sewn up through the Challenge Tour and I did, so that allowed me to have a free run in this event.
“And playing well here showed me that I was good enough to be on the main tour as I was there or thereabouts all week. So getting an invite for this last year probably played a massive part in me having a great start to this year and now having a great year overall.”
That four-putt from just right of the Valley of Sin may have been costly in monetary terms, but he soon realised that he’d done himself proud in an event won by Englishman Danny Willett.
“When the dust settled, I thought to myself ‘you were up there for ages and just had one bad hole and that happens a lot in golf’,” he admitted. “On other occasions, I’ve either chipped in or holed a long putt at the last hole, so it’s swings and roundabouts in this game.”
Ferguson was close to becoming a three-time winner this season until Oliver Wilson holed a couple of monster putts on the back nine to pip him in the Made in HimmerLand event in Denmark at the start of this month.
Despite that mild disappointment, he’s sitting 12th in the DP World Tour Rankings and is in with a great chance of joining his good friend Bob MacIntyre, the 2019 winner, as a Rookie of the Year.
“It is nice,” he said of being back in Scotland with a real spring in his step. “It’s always something I wanted to do and, having done it twice now, I’m looking at trying to achieve other stuff like winning on home soil as that would be another incredible thing.
“And I know that when I’m playing well and get the putter going and get a bit of a swagger, then I can give myself more chances.”
This week’s event could turn into a battle against the elements due to a poor weather forecast. “I was here a fortnight ago and the weather was stunning but I’m absolutely freezing standing here and I’ve got so many layers on,” said Ferguson.
“At the same time, though, I’m quite happy about the forecast as I know that so many guys hate bad weather so much and I don’t hate it that much.”
He won’t have Simpson as his partner this time around. “He is busy writing music at the moment,” he reported. “But I talk to him all the time and I’m seeing him in December, when he’s performing a gig in The Hydro in Glasgow.”