Wednesday, May 10, 2017

AYRSHIRE MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP - Semi final line up confirmed

The semi final line up for the 2017 Ayrshire Matchplay Championship was confirmed on Tuesday night, 9th September, when the four quarter final matches were completed at Prestwick Golf Club.

Paul Denim & Greg Watson
The lead match saw Greg Watson (West Kilbride) facing Paul Denim (Loudoun).

Watson had a crushing victory in the opening round on Monday night but it was Denim who took the early lead in the tie with a winning par four at the first.

A run of three threes and a four over the next few holes, amounting to figures of two under par over that stretch, saw Watson take control of the tie by winning all four holes from the second to the fifth to go three ahead in the tie. A par four at the seventh saw Denim reduce the deficit to two, but pars were good enough for Watson to win the eight and ninth and turn for home with a four hole lead.

Again a par won the tenth for Denim to reduce the deficit to three but Watson took the eleventh and twelfth to go five ahead and closed the match out with a half in pars on the fourteenth for a 5 & 4 victory.

Sandy Buchanan & Jim Johnston

The second tie of the night featured Jim Johnston (Ayr Belleisle) and Sandy Buchanan (Prestwick St Nicholas).

Johnston won the first with a par four and remained one ahead through the third with the players matching each other in par over the second and third holes, before a birdie at the fourth extended Johnston's lead. The next three holes were exchanged, Buchanan winning the par three fifth hole with a par and Johnston hitting back with a birdie three at the sixth before Buchanan took the seventh with a par four and then squared the match with a par at the eighth, only to fall one behind at the turn when Johnston birdied the closing hole of the outward half.

Johnston opened a two hole lead by taking the tenth but again Buchanan hit back, winning the long twelfth with a birdie three, only to see the two hole deficit restored when he failed to par the difficult thirteenth hole.

At the fifteenth, Johnston went three ahead for the first time in the match when Buchanan was unable to match his par four but again Buchanan hit back immediately with a birdie three at the sixteenth do go back to two down with two to play. With holes running out, Johnston secured a place in the semi finals with a half in fours at the seventeenth giving him a 2 & 1 victory.

Darren Mallinson & John Shanks

Defending champion John Shanks (Irvine) faced Darren Mallinson (Irvine Ravenspark) in the third quarter final clash of the evening. Despite losingl the opening hole to a par four, Shanks squared the match at the second with a birdie two. The match remained tight throughout the outward half, Mallinson winning the fifth with a par three and no other holes changing hands until Shanks won the ninth hole to square the tie at the turn.

Shanks edged ahead in the tie with successive winning holes at the twelfth and thirteenth and a birdie three at the difficult fifteenth hole saw him take a three hole lead with three to play before closing the tie out on the sixteenth green with a 3 & 2 victory.

Craig Hamilton & Andy Gibson

The final tie on the course on Tuesday featured two times winner Craig Hamilton (Ballochmyle) and Andy Gibson (Irvine).

Both players produced some quality golf throughout , both returning figures of 71 strokes for the round as it progressed all the way to the final green before the winner was decided.

hamilton took the early initiative, pars at the opening two holes being enough to give him a two hole lead, but after a run of halves in pars, Gibson reduced the deficit at the seventh with a winning birdie three, only to see Hamilton  take the next hole with a winning birdie as well. A par four at the ninth was good enough for Gibson to reduce the deficit to one hole as the players moved on to the inward half.

Gibson slipped up at the par five twelfth to give Hamilton a two hole advantage once again, but a par four at the thirteenth brough Gibson back to within one hole of Hamilton, which he maintained until Hamilton birdied the short par four sixteenth hole to go dormie two.

At the penultimate hole Gibson had a par four which was enough to take the hole and take the tie to the last.

At the final hole, a 288 yard par four, both players hit excellent tee shots onto the green. Putting first, Gibson rolled his long eagle putt to within a few inched of the hole, with a birdie three being conceded by Hamilton.

needing to get down in two putts from the front of the green for a match win, Hamilton made things difficult for himself when he saw his eagle put pull up short and right of the hole, leaving him a six foot putt for a birdie three to match Gibson and take the tie  with a single hole victory. In the event, Hamilton confidently rolled his putt into the hole for a three to end Gibson's title hopes for this year.

The line up for Wednesday night's semi finals, which tee off at 5.00 p.m., are :-

GREG WATSON (West Kilbride) Vs JIM JOHNSTON (Ayr Belleisle)

JOHN SHANKS (Irvine) Vs. CRAIG HAMILTON (Ballochmyle)

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