Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Robin Wilson's North round-up

Black Isle Open NT

The Black Isle Open Amateur Golf Championship played over the Fortrose and Rosemarkie golf course celebrated is sixtieth year last weekend with sponsorship from MacGregor Industrial Supplies. 
In the competition's first year, 1985, the winner was John Shand of Forres Golf Club and last Saturday winning the cup for a second time was local member Chris Gaittens.

Shand, was a regular club champion of his era at Forres and he retained the cup in the second year of play. Ten ten years latter the distinguished name of his club mate Hugh B Stuart went onto the cup, Stuart went on to win three Walker Cup caps, 1971,1973 and 1975.
The home club had to wait until 1974 for its first home winner, A R (Rory)Alexander and as the competition entered into the sixties, seventies and eighties Tain's Martin Ryan won five years on the bounce, 1977 to 1981 followed in 1982 by its only Sutherland club winner, Robin Wilson (Brora).
In 1985 a young Neil Hampton, now the General Manager at Royal Dornoch, won for the first of nine times, a record that still stands. 

Last Saturday was just forty eight hours after the course hosted an international field of under sixteen year old teenagers in the Scottish U-16 Open Stroke Play Championship, won by Italian Christoni Matteo with the impressive cards of 69,70, 69 & 67 for a nine under par total of 296,  Saturday's field found a very different course with a strong westerly wind buffeting it all day.

But when the defending champion, club secretary Michael MacDonald, opened with a three under par 68 (34/34), two outward half birdies, third and fifth holes followed by three successive inward birdies, 14th 15th and 16th holes and just two dropped shots for the remaining field of sixty to expect the local player and previous seven time previous winner to get closer to Hampton's record nine.

But with a poor quality representation from neighbouring clubs a quartet of local low handicappers took up the chase, Lewis Reid, Andrew Brown and Chris Gaittens all with 73's while lurking dangerously with a 74 was a former winner, Alan Cameron.

The wind rose even stronger by the start of the second round, the first five holes to the Lighthouse were a severe test. The first round leader bogied all of them to fall back into the chasing pack with a count of 44 for his first nine holes. Rallying he came home in two under par 33 for a 77 and post the target score of 145. Cameron followed him in with a 72 for 146 while Brown matched MacDonald's 145 with a second round 72. But the door was still ajar for Gaittens and Reid.

In his second round Gaittens birdied the ninth and fourteenth holes to get below par. From the wrong side of the 17th fairway he was left with a blind second second to the green but still managed a birdie three and with a closing par three returned a marvellous two under par card of 69 for a winning 142 aggregate.   

Reid eagled the par four 15th hole to get close to Gaittens but then from sight of winning he went chasing birdies on the last two greens and three putted both to close with a par 71 for 144 and second place.

Gaittens doubled up on cups when he also received the confined to locals Isa Ross Cup and also doubling up on silverware was low handicap winner James Fraser (27). It was Fraser's first 36 hole open success lifting the Handicap Challenge Cup in Class 1 with nett aggregate of 138. (68/70) from six handicap and also the confined Newton Cup.

Completing a hatrick of home winners was Kevin Munro from Class 2. The 18 handicapper improving six shots on his first round nett 75 to post a second round 69. His 144 aggregate won by two from club mate John Ballantyne.

In each round the Black Tees CSS rose from 70 to 72.

Results.(All Fortrose & Rosemarkie unless stated) Scratch: 142 C Gaittens (73/69). L Reid ((73/71). 145 M MacDonald (68/77). 146 R A L Cameron (74/72) 152 G Paterson (76/76). Handicap Class 1: J Fraser (6) 138. A Brown (3) 139. M Ross (6) 142 S Hall (5) (Styal GC Cheshire) (5) 143. K Fowler ((5) 144. Handicap Class 2: K Munro (18) 144. J Ballantyne (12) 146. W MacKay (22) 149. C Fraser (110 150. J Jack (10) 150.     

Brora Club Championship

Following his first success in 2016 and fail in his defence last year to his now Royal Dornoch club mate Chris Mailley, Liam MacDonald-MacLeod regained the Brora Golf Club championship Johnstone Cup in last Sunday's final round shoot-out.

Played over 72 holes of stroke-play beginning last Thursday night MacDonald-MacLeod led after round 1 with a five under par 65 but then fell behind with a Friday night second round 68 to the new 36 hole leader James MacBeath's 65. Their totals 132 and 133 with last season's champion, Chris Mailley in third place on 138 (68&70).

In Saturday's third round MacBeath and MacDonald-MacLeod both shot 72 and Mailley crept a shot closer with a 71 to have the top three were all drawn together for Sunday's fourth and deciding final round. Their 54 hole totals MacBeath 204, MacDonald- MacLeod 205 and Mailley 209.

The final shoot out was brilliant and almost a match-play contest, James and Liam sharing birdies on the second hole and Liam and Chris sharing eagles on the par five eighth hole for outward counts of Liam 32, James and Chris both 34 and 34 to give the lead back to Liam 237 over James's 238 and Chris now almost out of the race on 243.

MacBeath's solitary birdie on the par five 11th hole brought him level once more but MacDonald responded again with birdie two on the 13th although he lost his slender advantage by dropping a shot to par two holes later. But the decisive winning hole and putt came from MacDonald on the quality seventeenth hole, a superb birdie three to take a one stroke lead to the final tee.

All three found the green from the tee, MacDonald-MacLeod with the more difficult first putt from behind the pin. He laid it dead for certain then held his breath as MacBeath's attempt for a two from 15 feet to force a play sat on the edge of the hole. With nothing to gain and no pressure other than third place the outgoing champion holed for birdie.

The final cards Liam MacDonald-MacLeod 66 for 271, James MacBeath 68 for 272 and Chris Mailley 67 for 276. Other totals Darren Hexley 72, 72 73 67 for 285. Robert MacDonald 73, 71, 70 75 for 289. Iain Stewart 82 71 75 73 for 301.

The Ross Cup for handicap scores was won by Stewart Finlayson with a nett total of 263, (67 67 64 65) with Colin MacBeath runner up on nett on 271 (69 70 67 65).  
From the eight north starters in the 144 entry into the Scottish Open U-16 Stroke-play Championship at Fortrose & Rosemarkie only The Nairn Golf junior member, Logan Gillies made the cut after the first 36 hole of Play.

The cut fell at 149 and Logan went safely through from the foundation of a first round sub par 68 to which he added a 76 for 144. He completed his 72 holes and into a finishing tie for 39th place with cards of 77 and 75.

Home junior Jack MacLean had a torrid time with rounds of 90 and 80, Nathen Mackenzie (Muir of Ord) 87 & 81 and Golspie's Danny Doogan scored 74 and 76 to just miss the cut.

The focus this weekend on the amateur circuit is the Sinclair Cup at Royal Dornoch where last season's first time winner Lewis Reid (F&R) is hoping for a repeat win and his strongest challenge might come from Inverness's David Joel who is on a winning run, The Howey Cup at Brora, and the Jackson Cup at Nairn last Saturday.  On the same day those who failed to get an entry into Dornoch can sample Tain's delights in the Balbalir Distillery 36 hole open of the Sutherland Agricultural Show on the Dornoch Links?



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