Thursday, August 10, 2023

AYRSHIRE BOYS MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP - Final green win for Connor Wills at Prestwick

Connor Wills (Royal Troon) is the 2023 Ayrshire Boys matchplay Champion, following a final green victory in an intriguing final at Prestwick Golf Club on Thursday the 10th of August.

Playing against Luke Jones (Prestwick St Nicholas) in the final, Wills had a slow start, and after halving the first two holes in pars, found himself three down after five holes after Jones birdied the par five third hole, won the fourth after Wills found water from the tee and benefitted from Wills three putting the short fifth hole.

Connor Wills began the fightback at the very next hole, a par four being good enough to reduce the deficit to two holes and after the the remaining holes in the outward half were exchanged, one after the other. the players turned for home at the ninth with Luke Jones one hole ahead.

The first two holes in the inward half were halved in pars, and after Jones' second shot to the hole found a bunker, and his third went long and left of the green, from where he took two to  reach the green, the hole was conceded to Wills which squared the match after twelve holes.

After both players found trouble at the thirteenth, Connor Wills did just enough to win the hole and go one up in the match for the first time, and after the fourteenth was halved in pars, Wills extended his lead to two holes with a par four at the fifteenth, after Jones could only make five following a tee shot into the left rough which needed a recovery chip back to the fairway. 

At the sixteenth both players were near the green from the tee, Connor Wills just short of the green and Luke Jones pin high to the left, and after an excellent chip by Jones beyond the pin and using the contours of the green to finish just a couple of feet from the hole, a chip and two putts was not good enough for Wills ans Jones holed his birdie putt to reduce the deficit to one hole with two to play.

At the penultimate hole both hit good drives from where Jones found the left fringe and Wills the centre of the green, before both players holed excellent pressure putts for par fours, to take the match to the final hole with Connor Wills one up.

At the final hole Luke Jones drove left of the fairway whilst Connor Wills found the bunker short left of the green. An excellent chip from Jones to within 15 feet of the hole piled on the pressure for Wills, who did well to find the front of the green with his bunker shot, though he was left with about a 45 foot putt to the hole.

Wills judged his approach putt excellently, the ball coming to rest just a couple of feet from the hole, and when Jones' birdie attempt pulled up short and below the hole, Connor Wills seized his chance, holing his remaining putt for a par four, to half the hole, and win the title by a single hole.

At the conclusion of the final Ayrshire Golf Association Vice President Andrew Gilligan presented vouchers to both finalists before handing over the Ayrshire Boys matchplay Trophy to the 2023 winner, Connor Wills.


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