Saturday, August 13, 2005

AYRSHIRE BOYS MATCHPLAY - Euan Brown takes 2005 title at Prestwick

Euan Brown (Kilmarnock Barassie) is the 2005 Ayrshire Boys Matchplay champion, after edging out Cameron Gray (West Kilbride) by 2 & 1 in a close final, at a breezy Prestwick Golf Club on Saturday 13th August.

Brown got off to a great start, holing from 6 feet at the first for birdie and getting up and down from off the green at the par 3 second hole, to secure a two hole lead after 2.

At the third, Brown found rough on the right from the tee, and a poor lie contributed to a second shot which fell short, landing in the Pow Burn and out of bounds. With Gray safely near the green in 2, Brown conceded the hole and the match returned to one hole in Brown's favour.

The 4th was halved in par, and at the 5th, Brown struch his tee shot well, coming to rest some 30 feet right of the hole. With Gray looking likely to secure a par 3, Brown judged a severe right to left borrow to perfection, holing his putt for a birdie 2 to rerstore his two hole lead.

The 6th and 7th were halved in par, Gray in particular having a chance to win the 7th, but being thwarted by a fine recovery putt for par by Brown. Aty the 8th hole, brown found the rough on the left from the tee, and struggled make the putting surface in three. Gray on the other hand hit a superb drive which was duly rewarded when he secured his par 4 to reduce the deficit in the match to 1 again.

Despite leaving himself a testing 5 foot putt for par at the 9th, Gray matches Brown on the final hole of the outward half, to turn for home one hole behind.

Despite the difficult conditions, with a stiff south westerly breeze, Gray turned in level par figures, whilst Brown, with the exception of the 3rd hole, was one under par on the way out.

With Brown on the 10th green in 2, some 15 feet left of the hole, and Gray struggling after finding rough on the left from the tee, and his approach shots, Brown looked likely to extend his lead. Gray however had other ideas, playing a good chip to reach the green, from heavy rough, before securing an unlikely par 4 with a severely swinging left to right put from 30 feet which he holed. Brown's agonies were compounded when he struck his birdie putt 3 feet past the hole before his par putt struck the hole and spun out, giving Gray the hole and levelling the match for the first time since the opening tee shots.

Both players found sand from the tee at the short 11th, but whilst Brown took 2 to extricate his ball from the front bunker, Gray got up and down in two for a winning par, to go one up in the match for the first, and as it was later to prove, the only time in the match.

Despite the turn around in the match, Brown kept his cool, and immediately leveled the match with a birdie 4 at the 12th, after Gray bunkered his second shot and could only manage par. The status quo remained when both players did well to get up and down for par from off the green at the 13th.

Despite finding the rough on the right at the 14th from the tee, whilst his opponent found the fairway, brown got the better of the approach shots, hitting it to within 10 feet of theb hole whilst Gray was unfortunate to see his approach check and pull up 15 feet short of the hole.
Gray narrowly missed his birdie attempt, but Brown regained his lead in the match when he confidently holed his effort for 3.

Wit a wayward tee shot and a bunkered second, Brown struggled at the 15th, whilst Gray safely made the green in 2. The best Brown could do was a bogey 5, leaving Gray with two putts from 25 feet to level the match. Despite a good putt, on a tricky down slope, Gray saw his birdie effort run 3 feet past, and his return putt struck the hole and spun out, leaving the match still one hole in Brown's favour.

At the 16th, both players hit excellent approach shots, Gray finishing 12 feet from the hole with Brown a mere 4 feet away. Another good put from Gray just stayed above ground, whilst Brown confidently secured his birdie 3 to go dormie.

Gray continued to battle, and two excellent shots at the long 17th saw him safely on the green, some 15 feet from the hole. Brown meanwhile had been slightly bold with his approach, leaving him just off the back of the green, some 60 feet from the hole, with an extremely difficult shot to negotiate, to get the ball close. Despite his best efforts, brown could only get to within 12 feet from the hole in three shots. Gray's birdie putt shaved the hole and ran a little past, but he had no opportunity to putt for par, Brown stepping forward and holing another excellent putt, from around 12 feet, for par and a 2 & 1 victory.

With a better ball of around 5 under par, both players produced some excellent form in the final, and Grays figures in defeat, of 1 over par for 17 holes, were commendable and indicated the standard of the match, and the players involved.

At the conclusion of the match, prizes were awarded to both finalists, by Prestwick Golf Club Secretary, Ian Bunch, and the trophy was passed into the custody of the winner Euan Brown, for the next 12 months.

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