Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Philip McLean proudly holds the Uniroyal Quaich after his victory in the North-east Alliance championship at Newburgh today (Cal Carson Golf Agency image).

Philip McLean wins NE Alliance title as Chris

Robb and Craig Stephen make late slips

Peterhead +3 amateur Philip McLean won the North-east Alliance championship for the first time today after his closest challengers came to grief over the closing holes as they chased his clubhouse target of four-under-par 138.
A three-under-par round of 69 at Newburgh, added to a one-under 69 at Buckpool last week, gave McLean the title and the Uniroyal Quaich by one stroke in the end, but it was a close run thing over the last hour or so of play.
McLean, a full-time amateur and protégé of Paul Lawrie, birdied the fourth, sixth, seventh and 10th with only one slip in halves of 33 and 36. He three-putted the 11th from 40 feet.
Philip was under par in 10 his last 11 consecutive Alliance rounds, which augurs well for his prospects of making an impact on the 2009 Scottish circuit of weekend four-rounders. I would put a lot of money on McLean winning a place in the Scotland team for the home internationals come September.
But how strange that McLean is not yet in the field for the Scottish champion of champions' tournament over 72 holes at Leven Links on April 4 and 5, the event which virtually opens the domestic season for this level of competitor. Philip is on the reserve/waiting list.
After last week’s first round, Craig Stephen (Meldrum House) and Scottish schoolboys champion Chris Robb (Inchmarlo) were tied with McLean on the 69 mark.
Late finisher Robb, after birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th, needed a birdie at the par-5 last to pip McLean. But, after getting home at this 548yd hole with two mighty blows, Chris three-putted for a par and a 70 saw him have to settle for the runner-up position and the J K Hall Quaich with a total of 140.
Stephen, despite dropping three shots over the first three holes, was back in contention with a run of birdies at the fourth, eighth, 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th – only to lose a ball in the whins at the 16th which cost him a double bogey 6. A score of 71 saw him finish third on 140.
From my vantage point sitting next to secretary Ron Menzies as the Recorder's Table, I don't think I've seen so many tired faces as competitors handed in their cards. Black mark to those, by the way, who (a) Had No Returns and (b) Didn't bother telling Ron.
Slow play, which we have not heard much about for a while, reared its ugly head again, particularly over the first nine holes. Some players packed it in after taking more than two hours to complete nine holes.
A lot of the "older" competitors thought that, even on a perfect, almost still day, the course, off the medal tees, was on the long side of testing but a glance at the card shows that it was "only" 6423yd.
Easy for me to say "only," when I wasn't out there trying to keep my ball on the fairway and not in the punishing whins which put a premium on straightness off the tee, particularly on the second nine holes, the original nine-hole course.
But one of the other golfing hats I wear is to report on the United States men's college circuit - and worth nothing that two of their events were playing over courses well in excess of 7,000yd this week.
Now I know there is a huge difference between 40/50/60 somethings playing the North-east Alliance circuit and the fit young college boys ... but surely 6,423yd is not a LONG course by any stretch of the imagination.
One competitor at Newburgh thought that they got so used to playing off "the boxes" during the rest of the NE Alliance season that it was a shock to their system to play off medal tees.
Incidentally, there is no way that the clubs who are quite glad to play hosts to the Alliance through the late autumn-winter-early spring circuit would permit their medal tees to be used "out of season" as it were when preferred lies are usually the norm.
Speaking of whins. It seems unfair to single out Inverallochy's Bryan Ritchie for taking a 12 at the par-5 18th hole today. Unfair, because Bryan's scores are usually much nearer to par if not under it. But I mention his 12 to show just how punishing are these whins down both sides of the Newburgh fairways.
Bryan had a 70 at Buckpool last Wednesday and an 83 at Newburgh today. That's Alliance golf for you!
The championship trophies which will presented by Dick Cradock, former Royal Aberdeen club champion and a past winner of the NE Alliance title in the Murcar Links at lunchtime next Friday (March 27) at the conclusion of the NE Alliance foursomes were won as follows:
Uniroyal Quaich (championship) - Phil McLean.
J K Hall Quaich (best scratch) - Chris Robb.
Chapper's Pot - Class 1 - Craig Buchanan.
The Major's Pot - Class 2 - Benny Lumsden.
The Veterans' Pot (best over-60) - Sandy Pirie.
First round at Buckpool (par 70); Second round at Newburgh (par 72)
Par 142 (70+72).
138 P McLean (Peterhead) 69 69.
139 C Robb (Inchmarlo) 69 70.
140 C Stephen (Meldrum House) 69 71.
142 I Bratton (Newburgh) 70 72.
143 R Stewart (Cruden Bay) 71 72.
144 D Law (Hazlehead) 71 73.
145 C Nelson (Mackenzie Club) 74 71.
147 R Fitzpatrick (Inchmarlo) 71 76, A Bews (Murcar Links) 75 72, G H Paterson (Northern) 73 74.
148 J Nicolson (Auchmill) 75 73.
149 C Dempster (Inchmarlo) 75 74.
150 A K Pirie (Hazlehead) 72 78, D H Clark (Duff House Royal) 76 74
151 W Main (Murcar Links) 75 76, S Finnie (Caledonian) 71 80,
153 B Ritchie (Inverallochy) 70 83, F Bisset (Banchory) 74 79.
155 J Duncan (Newburgh) 78 77, J Mooney (unatt) 71 84.
156 R Hyland (Craibstone) 74 82.
157 C Buchanan (Hazlehead) 77 80, S Scott (Auchmill) 80 77, J Roberts (Cruden Bay) 80 77.
159 B Brooks (Meldrum House) 76 83, I Craik (Portlethen) 82 77, J M Hamilton (Murcar Links) 81 78.
161 C Carnegie (Kemnay) 78 83.
162 S Murray (Newburgh) 81 81.
163 B Harper (Newburgh) 80 83, D Wilson (Duff House Royal) 79 84.
164 C Cassie (Nigg Bay) 80 84.
165 P Farnan (Royal Aberdeen) 79 86.
Class 1
141 C Buchanan (Hazlehead) (8) 69 72.
142 C Stephen (Meldrum House) (+1) 70 72.
143 C Robb (Inchmarlo) (+2) 71 72.
144 P McLean (Peterhead) (+3) 72 72, J Nicolson (Auchmill) (2) 73 71.
145 J Roberts (Cruden Bay) (6) 74 71, J Duncan (Newburgh) (5) 73 72.
Class 2
144 B Lumsden (Northern) (14) 68 76.
145 N Parker (Murcar Links) (9) 71 74.
147 S Kennedy (Craibstone) (12) 70 77.
149 M Brown (Craibstone) (16) 71 78, J Scott (Peterculter) (11) 75 74.
150 M Booth (Kemnay) (10) 74 76, P Simpson (Aboyne) (13) 72 78
OUT: 4-3-5-4-3-4-4-4-5--36. IN: 4-4-4-4-4-4-3-4-5--36
OUT: 4-3-5-3-3-3-3-4-5--33. IN: 3-5-4-4-4-4-3-4-5--36
OUT: 5-4-5-4-2-4-4-4-5--37. IN: 4-4-4-4-4-3-2-3-5--33
OUT: 5-3-7-3-3-4-4-3-5--37. IN: 4-3-4-3-3-3-3-6-5--34
OUT: 4-3-5-4-3-5-5-4-3--36. IN: 4-4-4-4-4-4-2-4-6--36



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