Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Carson hopes to enter pro ranks as Lothians champion

Robert Carson is aiming to bow out of amateur golf with a bang by winning this week's Lothians Championship at Royal Burgess.
The 21-year-old Marriott Dalmahoy player revealed after a first-round success over Craigmillar Park's Alex Robertson last night that he's about to turn professional.
"I'm going to do my PGA training," said Carson, who revealed his decision had been influenced by the fact he's found it increasingly difficult to get into top amateur events.
"Two years ago, when I was playing off plus three, I got into everything but, off scratch, you can't get into anything," he added.
Carson, who admits his handicap has crept up due to the tougher East Course at Dalmahoy these days, played well from tee to green in beating Robertson and now faces Royal Musselburgh's Craig Johnstone in tonight's second round.
Up at 5.00am to get through to Glasgow, where he works as an electrical engineer for Network Rail, Johnstone had enough energy left in his tank to beat Kingsknowe's Scott Knowles, the 1980 winner, by 5 and 4.
"On the two previous occasions I qualified I was unable to play in the match-play phase," revealed Johnstone, a former winner of Royal Musselburgh's Old Club Cup, the oldest trophy continually played for in golf after being up for grabs since 1774.
Not for the first time in the event's history, the qualifying proved no pointer whatsoever in terms of potential champions. That's because the three players who tied for 140 at Castle Park and Royal Musselburgh all went out in the first round.
Scott Young's exit on Monday night has been followed by defeats for both Graham Robertson and Stephen Simants as well. Robertson's miserable record in the match-play phase continued as the Silverknowes man went down by 3 and 1 to Deer Park's Alan Crawford.
Playing in the event for the first time, Crawford, a 30-year-old project manager, revealed afterwards that he'll have a dilemma if he makes it to the semi-finals on Saturday morning as his stag do is planned for Friday night.
"The qualifying on Saturday was my first game of the year and, to be honest, I didn't expect to make it through," said Crawford, who faces Duddingston's David Miller in the second round. A semi-finalist at Longniddry in 2008, Miller had six birdies in beating Linlithgow's Stuart McMehen by 3 and 1 in one of the best games of the night.
McMehen's clubmate, Calum Grant, also looked to be heading out when he was four down at one point against Ricky Moffat of Dundas Parks. Following a remarkable turnaround, Grant was one up playing the last, lost that to a birdie-3 but eventually won through at the fifth extra hole.
His opponent tonight is Silverknowes' Paul Heggie, who also staged a good recovery to beat Simants, a semi-finalist 12 months ago, on the final green.
Another debutant, Heggie, 24, was three down after eight, level after 12 and got his nose in front for the first time with three holes to play. Dunbar man Simants responded with a hole-winning eagle-3 at the 16th only to lose the next to a par and Heggie closed the door by hitting the green with his 3-wood tee-shot at the last.
More than 20 years after he last qualified, Prestonfield's Scott Johnston chalked up a notable success as he beat Graham Davidson of Winterfield by 3 and 2, the same margin as Carrickvale's Craig Elliot beat Nick Aiken of Longniddry.
"In qualifying again after 22 years I've shown that was no fluke," joked 46-year-old Johnston, who was four up after ten, lost the ninth and tenth but progressed when his opponent saw a four-footer lip out at the 16th.
Elliot, now 38 but still playing off plus three, reckoned he didn't miss many greens in his success and will be hoping for the same again when he faces Johnston at the bottom of the draw in round two.
Last night's results:
FIRST-ROUND (continued)
R Carson (Marriott Dalmahoy) bt A Robertson (Craigmillar Park) 2 and 1.
C Johnstone (Royal Musselburgh) bt S Knowles (Kingsknowe) 5 and 4.
A Crawford (Deer Park) bt G Robertson (Silverknowes) 3 and 1.
D Miller (Duddingston) bt S McMehen (Linlithgow) 3 and 1.
C Grant (Linlithgow) bt R Moffat (Dundas Parks) at 23rd.
P Heggie (Suilverknowes) bt S Simants (Dunbar) 1 hole.
C Elliot (Carrickvale) bt N Aiken (Longniddry) 3 and 2.
S Johnston (Prestonfield) bt G Davidson (Winterfield) 3 and 2.



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