Friday, May 07, 2010

Nicholson, Dick, Miller and Elliot are

Lothians Championship semi-finalists

Craig Elliot is taking tailor-made clubs to a new level in a bid to add the Lothians Championship to the three Dispatch Trophy gold medals he's picked up for Carrickvale.
The 38-year-old revealed after progressing to the semi-finals at Royal Burgess last night that he's been working on his own clubs between matches in a bid to come up with a title-winning set."I've been changing my clubs quite a bit this week and re-shafted them again today," said Elliot.
"It is one of my hobbies and I put in shafts that were a bit shorter. The change seemed to do the trick as the former Scottish mid-amateur champion reckoned he'd hit the ball "100 times better" as he beat Paul Heggie of Silverknowes by 4 and 3 to book his place in the last four tomorrow morning.
Square at the turn, Elliot holed a 12-footer to win the tenth with a birdie, went two up when Heggie missed the green at the next and failed to get up and down before winning the 13th and 15th as well to secure the victory.
Referring to the fact he had also made it to the semi-finals at neighbouring Bruntsfield Links in 2007, Elliot remarked: "I quite like this area and I am certainly here to try and win this week."
His opponent in the last four will be Duddingston's David Miller, who has matched his performance at Longniddry two years ago by reaching that stage again.
Miller, a 32-year-old golf director with an Edinburgh-based insurance broker, won the first five holes in his quarter-final clash with Royal Musselburgh's Craig Johnstone, three of them with birdies.
He was six up at the turn before Johnstone staged a mini-fightback by winning the 12th and 14th, holing a downhill birdie putt there, but eventually won by 5 and 3.
"I'm driving the ball pretty straight and, all in all, I've played pretty steady so far this week," said Miller, who was off two when he packed in football and managed to get his handicap down to plus two within a couple of years.
Now he's a regular in the Lothians six-man side but Miller will know he's likely to need his A game to get the better of the talented Elliot.
In the other semi-final, Kingsknowe's Allyn Dick will take on Keith Nicholson, the defending champion and now just two games away from a record fifth title triumph in the event.
One down with three to play against Pumpherston's Paul Drake, Dick looked to be in deep trouble when his opponent hit a majestic second to around six feet at the long 16th.However, after Dick had rolled in a 25-footer for an eagle, Drake missed and then lost the 17th as well, this time to a par.
At the last, Dick thought he'd hit a good tee shot only to see his ball go a yard out of bounds just past the pin. While he didn't know that at the time, Drake produced a fabulous shot as he drove to about three feet at the par-4 to force extra time.
After they'd halved the first two in par-4s, Dick clinched the win at the 21st – a hole less than he'd required in beating host club hope John Yuille the previous evening. There, Drake found sand off the tee and was unable to make a par and conceded with his opponent four feet away in two. "The 16th was crucial as I thought I was going two down," admitted Dick, another member of that Carrickvale side that has had a stranglehold on the Dispatch Trophy recently.
In Nicholson's case, the 17th was the key hole in his match against Olly McCrone, who had to do without the support of his mates due to Turnhouse having a Summer League fixture.
After bunkering his approach, the Haddington man splashed out to 18 feet and looked to be in danger of going one down with his opponent safely on the green in two. However, Nicholson holed his putt and McCrone three-putted, meaning a half in 4s at the last was good enough to keep the East Lothian man on course for a successful title defence.
"My game's not been great, to be honest, but I have scrambled well all week," said Nicholson.
K Nicholson (Haddington) bt O McCrone (Turnhouse) 1 hole.
A Dick (Kingsknowe) bt P Drake (Pumpherston) at 21st.
D Miller (Duddingston) bt C Johnstone (Royal Musselburgh) 5 and 3.
C Elliot (Carrickvale) bt P Heggie (Silverknowes) 4 and 3.



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