Friday, March 16, 2012


By ED HODGE, SGU Press Officer
Glaswegian Paul Shields was deemed the joint-winner of the Northern Amateur Open in South Africa today after the 36-hole final in Johannesburg was abandoned due to flooding.
At Randpark Golf Club, Kirrhill’s Shields, pictured, and South African Aubrey Barnard were locked all square after 30 holes before officials called a halt to proceedings due to the unplayable conditions.
The contest had earlier been temporarily stopped after nine holes due to the rain as greenkeepers fought a losing battle.
With the course saturated, Shields and Barnard (Pretoria) returned to the comfort of the clubhouse to each clutch the trophy with one hand.
Shields, who defeated team-mate Fraser McKenna (Balmore) in yesterday’s semi-final at the fourth extra hole, was bidding to emulate compatriot David Law’s win in the same competition a year ago. Given the decision by organisers to share the prize, in a way the 21-year-old has claimed his biggest title success.
The result and circumstances offered similarities to when Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer were declared joint winners of the European Tour’s Volvo Masters in November 2002 after nightfall ended their play-off at Valderrama.
Shields was seeking outright glory after runner-up finishes in the Scottish boys’ Championship (2008 and 2009), while he was beaten to the South African Amateur title by Michael Stewart in last year’s all-Scottish final.
His hopes looked forlorn after the first nine holes of the final, with Barnard racing into a three-hole lead before the contest was stopped for the first time due to the rain.
Shields, however, showed typical fighting qualities to turn the tide on the back nine, winning the 10th, 13 and 14th holes before making birdie at the 18th to lead by a hole at lunch.
Shields went two up with a birdie at the 19th, before Barnard claimed the 20th and 21st to square the tie. The Scot won 24th and 25th to restore his two-hole advantage, before his opponent rallied again with wins at the 27th and 28th. With the match all square and the weather at its worse, it was deemed fair to declare joint-winners.
The Northern Amateur Open brought the curtain down on a highly successful eight-week winter performance programme for the new-look SGU National Men’s Squad in South Africa.
Following up on the victories enjoyed by Law and Stewart in 2011, Brian Soutar from Leven Golfing Society produced a stunning performance to keep the South African Amateur crown in Scottish hands after a final victory over rising teenage star Brandon Stone.
Among other highlights, the eight-man Men’s Squad defeated South Africa in a Test Match at Leopard Creek while Aberdour’s Scott Crichton finished a creditable joint-sixth in the South African Stroke Play.
McKenna and Shields then continued the spell of success with their displays in the Northern Amateur.
Given the strength of South African golf, whose recent graduates to the professional scene include Major winners Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, the Scots performed admirably, enjoying success against the leading lights of the host nation’s amateur squad, such as Stone, Haydn Porteous and the talented Shaun Smith.
Scottish Golf Performance Manager Steve Paulding said: “The trip has been hugely successful. Predominantly with a new squad, it’s very promising for us in a World Championship year.
"I’m really encouraged by the performances of the new squad members. Our whole focus is for October and The Eisenhower Trophy in Turkey and to maintain our top flight status in the world.
“The players will return from South Africa to recharge their batteries ahead of the domestic season.
“On behalf of all the players and coaches, I’d like to thank the contribution of Aberdeen Asset Management, Johann Rupert, the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation and sportscotland, for their fantastic support of our national squad and for making these opportunities come to life.”



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