‘Thrilling’ tie at Machrihanish golf championships

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Young golf stars played some great rounds while winner, Greg Watson 291, settled the championship in an exciting four hole play-off with Gordon Tyre 291

A stroke of good playing saw three of Kinyre’s youngest golfing greats take the top prizes in their sections at Machrihanish Golf Club’s 2018 championship contests.

Fraser MacBrayne won the 18-hole championship with Drew McLellan securing the nine-hole tournament and Craig MacMillan triumphant in the four-hole competition.

A spokesperson for the club described the youngsters as ‘a fantastic and very talented group’ who are assisted weekly by Jennie Dunn at the pro shop and their willing parents who volunteer their time and patience to the cause.

They may one day compete in the main event, the gents’ championship, which was played over the past two weekends.

Scheduled to take place across four days, spanning two weekends, the contest was thrown into disarray on the morning of the first round when only just one hole was completed when mist came rolling in from the Mull of Kintyre, just like McCartney referenced in 1977.

The decision was taken to cancel the first round and continue over the remaining three days with 36 holes on the final day for the qualifiers.

Sunday morning saw benign conditions with little or no wind and wall-to-wall sunshine, but not everyone can handle these difficult and unusual weather phenomena and the scoring wasn’t as low as expected.

Greg Watson took the lead after round one with a one over par 71 followed by Davie Campbell on 73 and a host of others in the mid 70s.

The handicap section was won by Stuart Gillespie with a tremendous gross 76 net 65, which, combined with his round two effort of a net 74, was enough to lift the J Scally trophy.

The second round got underway in similar sunny and calm conditions the following Saturday.

Greg proved that practice makes perfect and followed his opening 71 with exactly the same, qualifying in first place at two over par.

The chasing pack had mixed fortunes with Davie Campbell slipping a little at 77 and Steven Kelly climbing the leader board with a one over par 71.

Of the 32 players who qualified to play the final 36 holes on Sunday, some would fall before the finish line.

Gordon Tyre piled on the pressure with a third round 71, reeling Greg in by four shots as he slipped to a five over 75.

Other notable third round scores were Lee Mathieson (72-4=68) and Alan O’Neill (73-1=72).

The final group teed up on the first for the final time at about 1.30pm and headed out over the links.

Greg, with a three-shot cushion, needed to keep Gordon at bay for the last 18 holes.

The pendulum swung in the outward nine with both players ultimately out in one over par with two bogies and a birdie each, so at the turn, Greg still had a three-shot advantage.

Both players made it through holes 10, 11 and 12 dropping only one shot each.

Strong back-to-back birdies from Gordon on 13 and 14, and Greg failing to get up and down from the back of 14 and taking bogey, brought the scores level with four holes to go.

Gordon’s bogey at 16 saw Greg take a one-shot lead over the burn for the last time.

Both players bravely used a driver on the tricky tee-shot which got them safely away, securing pars.

Onto the last hole, both players were just short with their tee shots and safely onto the green.

Greg left himself a little more than desired and his first putt left a tester for par.

Gordon, one shot behind, had, in his mind, to hole this putt to have any chance of making it to a play-off.

He left it agonisingly in the lip and tapped in for a par.

Greg, now with a tester for the championship, hit confidently and it lipped out and remained above ground, frustratingly, just to the left of the hole.

A tap-in bogey meant that 72 holes just wasn’t enough to separate the two.

A four-hole play-off is the format for deciding such matters in recent years and with a par at the first two for Greg and corresponding bogeys for Gordon, 17 and 18 would need to see maximum attack from the latter.

A par on a difficult 17th from Gordon and a bogey from Greg set up a thrilling finish on the last.

A final hole birdie seemed like the most fitting ending to the battle and Greg lifted the ball out to applause from members and friends who had come out to follow the action.

Club captain, Calum MacMillan, who presented the prizes, with his wife Michelle and daughter Sienna, said how good the play had been over the four rounds.

He thanked the club, green-keepers and members for making the championship what it was.

Final results: 1 Greg Watson 291 (won after four-hole play-off), 2 Gordon Tyre 291, 3 David Campbell 302.

A full list of prize-winners will be available at the club.

The prize-winners in the 2018 Machrihanish Golf Club championships. NO_c25machgolf01_prize-winners

Champion Greg Watson with his trophy. NO_c25machgolf02_greg watson

Club captain, Calum MacMillan, with Fraser MacBrayne, who won the 18-hole championship. NO_c25machgolf03_fraser macbrayne

Drew McLellan, pictured with captain Calum MacMillan, triumphed in the nine-hole tournament. NO_c25machgolf04_drew mclellan

One of the youngest competitors, Craig MacMillan, with captain Calum MacMillan, won the four-hole competition. NO_c25machgolf05_craig macmillan

Machrihanish Golf Club’s 2018 champion, Greg Watson, in action. NO_c25machgolf06_greg watson