Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ding-dong struggle in the wind at Royal Troon

Paul O'Hara (left) and David Law on the first tee before the start of today's 36 hole Allied Surveyors Scottish amateur championship final at Royal Troon (image by Cal Carson Golf Agency). Click to enlarge.

Law wins a classic final at the 38th hole
PAUL O'HARA (Colville Park) 22 v. DAVID LAW (Hazlehead) 18.

Neither player showed any sign of nerves as the opening hole was halved in birdie 3s. O’Hara sank his 18ft putt to put the pressure on young Law but the 18-year-old Aberdonian, who had played the more accurate approach shot after the longer, straighter drive, confidently followed him in from 4ft.
Law was ice cool again when facing a three-footer for a half in 4s at the second. No hesititation. Straight in.
O’Hara, playing his eighth tie of the week, fell one down for the first time since the championship began on Monday. He bogeyed the third for Law to go one up with a par. But Law’s lead was short-lived. He took a bogey 6 at the long fourth and O’Hara’s par levelled matters.
O’Hara was quickly in arrears again after having a bad lie in a greenside bunker at the short fifth and taking two shots to get out of the sand. Law’s cast-iron par 3 put him in the lead once more.
O’Hara was not quite on song, not quite as confident as he had been prior to the final. He bogeyed the long sixth with three putts to go two down but perked up to birdie the seventh and be only one down on the eighth tee.
Law was bunkered to lose the Postage Stamp short hole to O’Hara’s par 3 which squared the contest.
Law drove deep into the left gorse off the ninth tee and didn’t bother looking for his ball. He played a provisional ball …. into the right gorse … and eventually conceded the hole with O’Hara home in two.
Out in an approximate two-over-par 38 in the bright and breezy conditions, O’Hara was one up but it was all square again after a half in 4s at the 10th O’Hara took three putts from short of the green to lose the 11th.
The wind had risen quite sharply and after the 12th was halved in 4s, Law conceded the 13th after being in trouble to go one down again.
Law had a birdie chance from about 12ft at the short 14th but couldn’t take it and O’Hara, who had putted up close from short of the green, was able to escape with a half in 3.
O’Hara went two up for the first time with a par at the 15th.
The 16th was halved in par 5s.
Law played a great five-iron at the short 17th to set up a conceded birdie 2 which O’Hara, having missed the green left, couldn’t match.
Law did well to get down in two putts from 18yd at the edge of 18th green, holing the second from 6ft O’Hara two-putted from 20ft to go in for lunch one up.
O’Hara made a great start to the second round with a wind-taming pin-high approach shot, 4ft from the flagstick and he downed the putt for a repeat of his opening birdie 3. This time Law, just on the green in two, could not match it, taking two putts from 40ft.
Law seemed a little uncertain in his club selection into the wind. He was well through the back of the second in two while O’Hara was again pin high but off the green to the left. O’Hara almost holed his delicate little pitch but Law was able to come out of the rough to 5ft and he holed the par-saving putt for a half.
After a half in 4s at the 21st, the par-5 22nd was halved in birdie 4s, Law following O’Hara in from 15ft after Paul had holed from 16ft.
Law got back to one down with a par 3 at the short 23rd, holing a second putt of 6ft after O’Hara had been bunkered and failed to hole a five-footer for a 3.
It was tough going for both players into the wind and neither played the long 24th well. O’Hara finally missed from 5ft for the hole to be halved in bogey 6s.
Law got back on level terms for the first time since the morning 12th when O’Hara bunkered his drive in losing the 25th to his opponent’s par 4.
Both men hit the green at the Postage Stamp 26th short hole, O’Hara missing from 8ft in his attempt for a 2 and Law holing from 5ft for a half in 3.
The 27th was halved in bogey 5s, leaving the match all square with nine holes to play, Law having covered the afternoon outward half into the wind in roughly one-over-par 37 to O’Hara’s 38.
After the 28th was halved in par 4s, O’Hara had a nightmare 29th hole, which saw him take two penalty drops for unplayable lies in the gorse and he finally conceded the hole after taking six shots to reach the green at this par-4 hole. Law, off the green but pin high in 2, was now one up for the first time since the seventh in the morning.
Law bravely holed a 12ft putt at the 30th to stay one up, getting down in two shots from over 150yd.
The 31st was halved in bogey 5s with O’Hara letting another 8ft winning chance go by.
The short 32nd was halved in par 3s but Law drove into the rough at the 33rd, could only hack out and O’Hara, on in two, squared the match with a par 4..
The long 34th hole was halved in par 5s after an excellent recovery pitch by Law to within 12 inches of the hole after he had gone through the back of the green in three on to an access road to a private house in the middle of the course. He was permitted a free drop and took full advantage of it to match O’Hara’s more conventional 5.
The short 35th in a nerve-tingling match was halved in par 3s. O’Hara came out of a greenside bunker to hole from 20ft for a 3. Law, after a superb tee shot to 5ft, saw his putt for the vital horseshoe out.
The 36th hole was another nail-biting half in par 4s with O’Hara just failing to hole his 20ft birdie putt and Law’s 15ft birdie putt for the title, coming to rest an inch from the side of the hole.
Law played a great recovery to halve the first extra hole in 4 after missing the green 30yds left of the flag. He holed a 5ft putt to match O’Hara’s solid 4.
At the second extra hole, O’Hara was through the back of the green with his approach and, by his own admission, “played a terrible chip” to lose the hole and the title with a bogey 5 to Law’s two-putt par 4.



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