Thursday, May 07, 2015

Michael Smyth wins Ayrshire match-play 

title at 21st at Prestwick St Cuthbert

Michael Smyth (Royal Troon) completed a hat-trick of Ayrshire match-play championship titles at Prestwick St Cuthbert GC tonight with an extra holes victory over Stuart Miller (Kilmarnock Barassie) in the final.
Smyth, who previously won the title in 2011 and 2013, opened his bid for the 2015 crown with a winning birdie 3 at the opening hole, though Miller squared the match with a birdie at the par five third.
Further birdies but Smyth at the sixth and eighth holes saw him to the turn with a two-hole lead and he increased his advantage to three with a par four at the tenth after Miller found trouble from the tee and was forced to take a penalty drop.
Smyth looked in control of the match at this stage but successive putts at the twelfth and thirteenth which hit the hole but failed to drop saw Smyth surrender both holes to Miller, reducing his lead to a single hole.
A par four at the 15 th was good enough for Smyth to restore a two- hole advantage with three to play and a half at the 16th left Smyth dormie two.
Smyth had the opportunity to close out the match at the 17th but a missed putt by Smyth allowed Miller to pull one back and a closing birdie 4 from the Barassie player, who bravely holed from six feet after Smyth's attempt for birdie had slipped past, saw the match finish all square after the scheduled 18 holes.

2015 finalists Michael Smyth & Stuart Miller
with Ayrshire Golf association and match referee James McMurdo
At the first extra hole, both players saw birdie putts narrowly miss and the match went on to the 20th hole, where Smyth was hampered by a tree following his tee shot  whilst Miller had a clear shot to the green. Smyth, however, produced a superb recovery shot to reach the green and again the hole was halved in par and the players went on to the 21st hole of the match, the third extra hole.
With both players safely in play from the tee at the par five third hole, Smyth hit an excellent wood for his second which just ran off the left side of the green, while Miller pulled his second a little, leaving him a tricky approach over a greenside bunker.
Miller played a good chip but the ball ran some 15ft past the hole  and Smyth piled on the pressure with a good approach putt from the fringe to within a couple of feet of the hole.
Miller's effort for birdie failed to drop and Smyth finished off the match, holing his short putt for a winning birdie 4 and the 2015 Ayrshire match-play championship.

At the conclusion of the match, Ayrshire Golf Association President James McMurdo paid tribute to both players and the greens staff of Prestwick St Cuthbert GC for the excellent condition in which the course was presented all week, before presenting vouchers to both finalists and handing over the trophy to the 2015 winner, Michael Smyth



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