Sunday, September 19, 2010

UP FOR THE CUP! Newmachar's winning quartet in the Northern Counties Cup - (left to right) Chris Simpson, Mark McKechnic, John Duff and Richard Barr (Image by Robin Wilson).
Newmachar win Northern Counties Cup at Royal Dornoch

Newmachar Golf Club, relative newcomers to the Northern Counties Cup and only once previous winners since the club's formation in 1990, won for a second time at Royal Dornoch on Saturday, beating eleven times previous winners and holders, Nairn, in the final by two holes.

Newmachar's winning team 13 years ago at Peterhead was Craig Thomson, Alister Crombie, Jim Hardie and John Cramond and at Dornoch the cup and gold medals were won by Chris Simpson (38), Mark McKechnic (27), John Duff (21) and Richard Barr (33).

Barr nearly missed playing after he was struck on the back of his head by a golf ball driven from the eighth tee during Wednesday's practice rounds which left him nursing a sore bump for the rest of the week. But it did not prevent him playing his part in a final, where Nairn, the favourites, did not produce the form of their earlier rounds which had seen them put out three former winners in defence of the cup.

In the double foursomes match-play format, that has stood the test of time since the first competition in 1900 at Royal Aberdeen, Nairn have won on the competition's last two visits to Royal Dornoch and by reaching the final once again with a semi final win over the Inverness second team they were firmly lodged as favourites to continue their Dornoch run.

Newmachar's first couple Simpson and McKechnic made a birdie from 9 feet on the final green to sink Moray in the semi final and produced the same type of form in the final.
At a crucial stage they birdied the 12th, won the 14th with par, then birdied 15th to go from two behind against Nairn's Fraser Fotheringham and Steven MacDonald to one ahead.
Then, at the 17th hole, the Newmachar pair, after being bunkered from the tee, got down in two from 140 yards to win the hole and go two ahead after Fotheringham, from MacDonald's drive, was unable to find the green from a horrid lie in the rough.
In the game following between the Duff/Barr partnership against the formidable Neil Hampton and Robert Smith, who were attempting to win their fifth individual gold medal with Nairn, the Newmachar couple were always in front due to some slack play from their opponents.
Duff and Barr turned two in front but, bunkered at the 11th, were cut back to one up and still fighting. Hampton holed a valuable par putt on the14th green to level and increase the pressure on their less experienced opponents.
Then it was the fully recovered Barr who found the cup. His approach to the 17th pin was an almost conceded birdie and the holed putt put the second pair one up and a team aggregate three holes ahead with only the 18th hole remaining to play.
Simpson and McKechnic lost the final hole for the final result of two holes up for Newmachar.
Semi finalists Moray can look forward to next year when the event visits their Lossiemouth links in September.

Semi finals
Nairn bt Inverness 2 by two holes
(F Fotheringham, S MacDonald 0; B Fraser, J Forbes 3, N D Hampton, R Smith 5, D Joel, J Treasurer 0),
Newmacher beat Moray by four holes
(C Simpson, M McKechnic 2, K Thomson, M MacLeman 0; J Duff, R Barr 2 G Thomson, S Tatters 0).
Newmachar beat The Nairn 2 holes
(Simpson, McKechnic 1 Fotheringham, MacDonald 0; Duff, Barr 1 Hampton, Smith 0)



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