Sunday, September 12, 2004

AYRSHIRE JUNIOR GOLF LEAGUE - Ardeer retain the title with narrow victory

Reigning champions Ardeer became the first team to retain the Ayrshire Junior Golf League Championship since Ballochmyle in 1999, when they defeated Kilmarnock Barassie by 3.5 - 2.5 in the final at Largs Golf Club on Sunday 12 September.

Ardeer were giving shots in 4 of the 6 ties, but the defending champions overcame their challengers despite the shots given in the last four games.

Fergus Cunningham put the first points on the board for Ardeer. Playing in game 2 against Euan Brown, Cunningham raced to a 5 hole lead after 8. Brown stopped the charge temporarily with a birdie 3 at the 386 yard 9th hole, after Cunningham's attempt had hit the hole and stayed out, and Cunningham started the inward half with a 4 hole lead. Despite the loss of the 9th, Cunningham was soon back on track, taking successive holes from the 10th to the 12th for a 7 & 6 victory in his game.

Ardeer soon held a 2 - 0 lead in the match courtesy of left hander Martin Dunning in game 4. Three up after three holes against Neil Hamilton, Dunning continued to keep the pressure on his opponent, extending his lead to 5 holes after 6 and going further ahead by the turn, with a 7 hole advantage after 9. With Hamilton struggling with his game, Dunning took full advantage, taking the 10th and 11th holes for a 9 & 7 victory.

With two large winning margins, Ardeer only realistically required a 3 - 3 draw overall to take the title on the countback, and the decisive point came courtesy of Garry Dixon in game 6. With an early 2 hole lead over Scott Allison, Dixon extended his advantage to 3 holes after 6, courtesy of a three putt by Allison. Dixon further extended his lead to 4 holes at the turn, and successive wins at 10 and 11 gave him a 6 hole lead with 7 to play. Despite a brave effort to extend the game, Allison narrowly failed to prevent Dixon winning a third successive hole at the 12th, giving Dixon a 7 & 6 win and Ardeer a 3 - 0 lead in the match.

With three ties still on the course, Ardeer hoped for a further half point for an outright victory, but the Barassie team were not willing to give up the possibility of an 3-3 draw in the match easily.

In the lead match between John Shanks (Ardeer) and Stuart Henderson (Barassie), there was little to separate the two 3 handicappers. Shanks turned for home with a slim 1 hole lead, but Henderson squared the match by the 13th, before taking a 1 hole lead after 15. Shanks maintained his challenge to the final hole, but Henderson maintained his grip on the tie, taking the final hole for a victory by 2 holes and Barassie's first match point of the afternoon.

In game 3, Scott Ainsworth and David Currie had a tough match. Currie began well, taking the first two holes, but Ainsworth reduced the deficit to 1 hole at the par 3 4th, par being sufficient after Currie tangles with a boundary fence and could only manage a bogey 4. Currie immediately restored his advantage at the 5th, a superb approach to within 2 feet of the hole setting up a winning birdie 3. Despite the players trading holes, Currie's 2 hole advantage was maintained through 11, but again Ainsworth reduced the deficit to 1 hole after 15. Halved holes at 16 and 17 maintained Currie's lead to the final hole. At the last, Currie's approach finished at the back of the green, some 45' from the hole, whilst Ainsworth was also past the hole, some 30'. A good approach put to 3' by Currie was confidently holed, after Ainsworth had narrowly failed with his birdie effort, giving Currie a 1 hole victory and a match score of Ardeer 3 - Barassie 2.

The final game on the course was between Andrew Kowalski and Robbie Gemmill. Gemmill forged a 2 hole lead by the turn, which was extended to 3 holes after 11. Kowalski reduced the deficit by winning the 12th, but Gemmill maintained his 2 hole lead through 15. At the 330 yard, par 4, 16th, Gemmill found the burn from the tee, whilst Kowalski missed the fairway to the right. After dropping under penalty, Gemmill played his third shot just through the green, some 50' from the hole, whilst Kowalski's approach pulled up short of the green. Kowalski chipped to 10' in three, but Gemmill then produced the putt of the day, holing from just off the green for an incredible par 4. To Kowalski's credit, he rose to the task, bravely holing his put to stay in the match. Gemmill again found water at the 17th hole, but on this occasion Kowalski was able to win the hole and progress to the final hole, needing to win it to give Ardeer a clear win in the final. At the final hole, Gemmill's approach came to rest pin high, 35' to the right of the hole, whilst Kowalski played one of the best shots of the day, his approach pulling up 4' from the flag. Gemmill's tricky downhill putt was good, stopping some 3' past the hole. Kowalski's birdie putt was good, but struck the hole and spun out, giving Gemmill the opportunity to half the hole and tie the match. Gemmill's effort however pulled up short of the hole, giving Kowalski the hole, a halved game and importantly for his team a clear 3.5 - 2.5 win in the match.

On conclusion of the match, both teams were presented with mementoes by Ayrshire Junior Golf League Chairman, Gordon Cunningham (Largs G.C.).

(Ardeer names first)

JOHN SHANKS (3) lost to STUART HENDERSON (3) by 2 holes
FERGUS CUNNINGHAM (4) beat EUAN BROWN (4) by 7 & 6
SCOTT AINSWORTH (5) lost to DAVID CURRIE (7) by 1 hole
MARTIN DUNNING (7) beat NEIL HAMILTON (14) by 9 & 7
GARRY DIXON (12) beat SCOTT ALLISON (18) by 7 & 6


ARDEER 3.5 KILMARNOCK (Barassie) 2.5

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