PEEBLES golfer Craig Howie got his professional career off to a flying start by finishing joint runner-up in just his second Tour event, pocketing a cheque for 2,500 euros at the Sea Ain Sokhna Classic on the Pro Golf Tour in Egypt.

Howie, who only made the move to the professional ranks the previous week, carded seven birdies in a final round 68 to end the tournament on 12-under par, only to be pipped by a 25-foot birdie putt on the final green by eventual winner, Germany’s Jeremy Paul.

Craig was high up the leaderboard for the duration of the 54-hole competition, opening with a superb five-under par 67 and moved into a share of third place after day two after a round of 69. He climbed to joint top of the field late in the third round, but narrowly missed birdie putts on 17 and 18 during the final round, and look set for a play-off before the German’s grandstand finish.

Nevertheless, the result puts Craig into fourth place on the Tour’s Order of Merit after two events, following a share of 21st spot in his maiden tournament, with the top five players in the rankings at the end of the season gaining promotion to the European Challenge Tour.

Craig, who flew back to Peebles last weekend before heading out to Morocco for his third event, told us: "I’m obviously disappointed not to have won but very pleased to get my pro career off to a nice start after the first couple of weeks.

"I really enjoyed being in contention, its where you want to be and have felt very comfortable out there since making the move from being an amateur.

"It’s nice to finally have an income, although after all the travelling expenses, you don’t see too much of it!

“My first week on Tour was a challenging one after my golf clubs went missing in transit and I had to practise with a borrowed set from someone on the resort, which wasn’t exactly a nice welcome to the world of professional golf!

"Thankfully the clubs turned up the night before my first round and I played well tee to green for most of the first week, without holing too many putts.

“I’ve been used to all the travelling having competed regularly overseas during my amateur career and so I am well prepared without it feeling like too much of a big step. I’ve been practicing hard and I feel I can be one of the better players on this Tour, so hopefully I can stay in the top five and progress onto the Challenge Tour.

"I have a good schedule to look forward to with a few events in Morocco coming up before we hit Europe later in the season, and I am grateful for the support I have had from the Peebles members and sponsors who have helped make this opportunity possible.”

His next event is the Open Prestigia in Casablanca (February 4 to 6) and you can follow Craig’s progress on the Peebles Golf Club Facebook page with links to the leaderboard.

Younger brother Darren announced his own arrival on the international stage last weekend when he won the first overseas victory of his young career by taking top spot in the Moroccan Golf Federation Grand Prix at Royal Golf Mohammedia.

Part of the Scottish Golf’s warm weather training programme in Morocco, the talented Peebles youngster posted rounds of 68, 75 and 72 to finish the tournament on one-under par, to finish four shots clear of fellow Scot Lewis Irvine.

Howie, last year’s Scottish Boys Order of Merit champion, will hope to build on his success when he continues his international travel to South Africa next week, after being selected as one of four teenagers in a nine-strong squad heading to the Rainbow Nation, thanks to the continued support from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation.

The competitive winter camp, which is also supported by national team sponsors Aberdeen Standard Investments, coupled with funding from sportscotland, will see players take part in the leading events on the South African amateur circuit, competing in the South African Strokeplay Championship, African Amateur, South African Amateur and in an annual Triangular match against the South African Golf Association’s Junior Team and Senior Teams.

Scottish Golf has been a beneficiary of the Foundation for a number of years, with players such as European Tour members Connor Syme and Bradley Neil gaining valuable experience during their amateur careers, while a number of Scots have enjoyed success while competing against South Africa’s leading players.

Stuart Clayton, Scottish Golf’s performance director, added: "This trip provides a fantastic opportunity for our emerging young talent and we are indebted to the Alfred Dunhill Links and in particular Johan Rupert for making it possible.

"We are delighted to support a group of female golfers for the first time through the partnership and it will give the players to chance to experience the style of golf they will be required to adapt to should they progress onto the professional tours.”