Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Northern Counties Cup at Royal

Dornoch's 'section of death'

Next week's competition for the 99th Northern Counties Cup, the North's oldest inter-club competition played continuously in all but the War Years since 1900, has an entry of 40 teams representing clubs from the Orkney Islands to Aberdeen at Royal Dornoch, September 16-18, and has thrown up a top quarter draw section with seven former winners in it.
As holders, Nairn, head the section as first seeds and received a bye into the second round where they meet twice former winners over the Dornoch links in 1977 and 1985, Brora Golf Club, who they beat on their winning way in the quarter-finals at Peterhead 12 months ago.

In this “section of death” the 1991 winners, Nigg Bay play Nairn Dunbar 2, then double winners in 2002and 2006, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, have an opening tussle with Duff House Royal. The Hosts, with their massive cup record of 21 wins, but none since 1988, are also in this quarter and play the 1989 winners Banchory in their opening tie.
For the winners awaits a second round game against Inverness who match Nairn's eleven previous wins . Inverness's last win coming two years ago at Tain.
Inverness have changed their first pairing from twelve month ago, Bruce Thomson's new partner is Stewart Connell who replaces John Forbes while Alan Cameron and Euan Forbes continue their partnership.
The Nairn first team selection is unchanged from Peterhead. Fraser Fotheringham. Steven MacDonald, Neil Hampton, the newly installed Royal Dornoch Secretary/Manager, and Robert Smith. Fotheringham made his winning debut in the Nairn quartet last year but Hampton, Smith and MacDonald have been ever present in Nairn's last three wins, Dornoch 2004, at home in 2007, and Peterhead 2009. Hampton and Smith were also partners in the Nairn team that won in Dornoch in 1998.
After receiving first round byes, two neighbouring North East clubs, make the long trip to play each other at Dornoch in Round 2, Cruden Bay and Newmachar. Cruden Bay saw their second team winning in the inauguration centenary year of 2000 at Royal Aberdeen and their first team matched this three years later in Peterhead. Surprisingly their first team selection is without Michael Buchan who knows the Dornoch links very well and was runner up last weekend in the 36 hole Gardner Trophy . Cruden Bay's first team is R. Cooper, Neil McCulloch, George Connon and Alan Middleton Jnr. up against Newmachar's Chris Simpson, Mack Meckechnie, John Duff and Richard Barr.
The Royal Aberdeen first team are enforced by the Dornoch course record holder and five time recent winner of the Sinclair Cup, Mark Halliday. Halliday is alongside Bill Barclay, Bill MacAndrew and Alan Reith for their opening tie against against the island visitors from Orkney and in a cosier quarter of the draw are looking for their first win since 1975 when N G Thom, J H Little, I Creswell and H D Adams lifted the famous cup.
The full first round draw is:
Thursday (from 8am) – Nairn Dunbar 2 v Nigg Bay1; Royal Dornoch v Banchory; Inverness 2 v Newmachar 2; McDonald Ellon v Turriff; Moray 2 v Nigg Bay 2; Royal Aberdeen 1 v Orkney2; Muir of Ord 2 v Deeside; Fortrose and Rosemarkie 2 v Strathpeffer. Round 2 Thursday from 10.15am – The Nairn v Brora; Tain 1 v Nairn Dunbar 2 or Nigg Bay 1; Duff House Royal v Fortrose and Rosemarkie 1; Inverness 1 v Royal Dornoch or Banchory; Tain 2 v Peterhead; Muir of Ord 1 v Inverness 2 or Newmachar 2.
Murcar Links v Meldrum House; Royal Aberdeen 2 v McDonald or Turriff; Cruden Bay 1 v Newmachar 1; Elgin v Moray 2 or Nigg Bay 2; The Nairn 2 v Forres; McDonald Ellon 1 v Royal Aberdeen 1 or Orkney 2; Moray 1 v Orkney 1; Cruden Bay 2 v Muir of Ord 2 or Deeside; Thurso v Nairn Dunbar 1; Loch Ness v Fortrose and Rosemarkie 2 or Strathpeffer.

Fraser Shield and Gardner Trophy at Dornoch

Following the recent sudden death of Royal Dornoch's favourite Caddie, Sandy Matheson, his son Kevin gave the family a big lift when he brought home two trophies from the Club's final 36 hole open competition of the year last Saturday.
The local members have in recent years found it difficult winning the club's two 36 hole open competition silverware, Neil Munro, the last local winner of the Gardner and Fraser Shield four years ago before Saturday's winner matched Munro's double whamy success at the weekend.
Back to compete last Saturday was Michael Buchan (Cruden Bay), a regular to the Dornoch summer open events, and the runner up twelve months ago. Buchan set the first round pace by the Class 1 handicap golfers who played their opening round over the Struie course with level par card of 72. Not a favourite venue of the locals, their best efforts were four 77's from Kevin Matheson, Bryan Urquhart, William Short and past winner, Munro.
Leading the the challenge on Buchan from the Struie to the top course against Buchan were Stewart McIntosh (Crieff) and Simon Hermitson (Carrickvale) who also matched the Struie par of 72 and also from the North East, Brian Nicolson (Auchmill) a with a 74.
Buchan wasted his opportunity of winning the Gardner Trophy last year with a three hole swing on the final hole to allow David McCreadie (Cawder) steal the win and the North East District plus one handicapper rued a second round 77 over the championship course finish second again,beaten on the better second round score.
Now on a more familiar course a two over par 72 from Matheson who has never won the Gardner Trophy projected the local to a finishing tie on 149 with Buchan and win the Gardner Trophy for the first time on the second round card decider. But this time with net scores of 76 and 71 for 147 Matheson also led the home club net returns to double up winning the confined to members, Fraser Shield.

(CSS. Championship home 75, away 76, Struie, home 71, away 73)
Scratch – 149 K Matheson (Royal Dornoch ) 77 72, M Buchan (Cruden Bay) 72 77.
151 S. MacKintosh (Crieff) 72 79.
155 A. MacGregor (Hazlehead) 76 79.
G. Yorkston (Carrickvale) (4) 143. G. Rutherford (Blairgowrie) (5) 143, M. Fraser (Alness) (12) 145. M. Gray (RDGC) (7) 147. Fraser Shield – K Matheson (RDGC) (1) 147.


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