Sunday, July 08, 2018


Joel wins Inverness four-day tournament for first time

By ROBIN WILSON 

After defeating the local club champion, Jonathon Keith, in the quarter-finals, then the holder, Alan Cameron (Fortrose and Rosemarkie), in the semi-finals, home member David Joel went into his second Inverness four-day tournament final to meet the player who beat him in the 2016 final, Keiran MacKay, over a baked Inverness Culcabock golf course last Thursday.

The final was delayed for 15mins to give MacKay a longer break from his semi-final win over clubmate Martin Duncan that extended to the third extra hole. So fast running was the first fairway that Joel's first shot of the final with a two iron found the first green, 303 yards distant, to immediately take a one-hole lead with a two-putt birdie 3. 

Just two weeks earlier MacKay had lost in the club championship final to Keith and when Joel's eight foot putt on the fourth green was holed MacKay was behind by two but he escaped with a half on the next par five hole before Joel went through a sticky patch.

From a seeded scrape on the next fairway Joel dumped his ball into the burn guarding the green. Then he missed the next par three green and his lead was gone and he fell one behind on the tenth tee as MacKay also won the par three ninth, Joel also missing this green.

Joel got back on level terms when MacKay lost a ball on the 12th hole but the younger player levelled again when he won the par three 15th with his best strike of the day to four feet, Joel expecting to lose the hole anyway to a birdie 2, missing his return putt.

Then to a game-changing final three holes. Joel was disturbed on his wedge approach to the 16th green and MacKay had pulled his left of the pin but then his over-hit pitch struck the pin and fell into the hole for an unexpected birdie 3. Rather that trying to defend his slender lead Joel took on overhanging branches with his approach to the 17th green but hit them to lose the hole and the game was level again.

Both found the final fairway and green, MacKay's birdie attempt ending just on the edge of the cup. Joel's attempt from 18 feet, slightly downhill, found the middle of the cup to leave him a happy winner of the Rosswood Trophy for the first time.

There was a good mix of visiting competitors in the scratch match-play but in the three handicap sections all 48t were local members. 
In Section 1 (0-11) the final was fought between Greig Bennett (6) and Alan Coutts (9). Bennett held the upperhand for most of the game and, even giving a stroke at the 14th hole where Coutts was bunkered, went three ahead. 
Coutts was also bunked at the following par three hole and Bennett became a first time winner of the Johnstone Trophy by 4 and 3.

A father and son, Alan and Oliver Innes each made the finals of the next two sections, but there was not to be a double family triumph.
 Alan Innes (12) in Section 2 (12-15) and Matthew Sharples (13) in the Section final shared six of the first nine holes but then Innes went three ahead with wins at the 10th, 11th and 12th holes before losing the 13th, 15th and 16th.  They halved the 17h hole but on the final hole Sharples stole the one hole win and the Tom Sutherland Trophy with a winning chip and putt par four.

But Oliver Innes (18), in the final handicap section (16-22) against Frankie Murdoch (21), played a close game through 16 holes with Innes, taking a one-hole advantage to the penultimate tee with a winning 16th hole.
From the 17th tee Murdoch found the trees on the right and had two attempts to get back onto the fairway and two more to get onto the green where he conceded the hole and the Fraser Smith Trophy by a 2 and 1 margin to the 18-year-old Innes, playing the event for the first time.

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