Tuesday, September 13, 2011

AYRSHIRE JUNIOR GOLF LEAGUE - Walker triumphs in Champion Of Champions final

2011 Ayrshire Junior Champion Of Champions
Euan Walker (Kilmarnock Barassie)
After a run of second places in recent major junior events in the County, Euan Walker (Kilmarnock Barassie) triumphed for the first time in an epic Junior Champion Of Champions Trophy final, played at Loudoun Gowf Club on Saturday 10th September, beating David Wilson (Troon Welbeck) by two holes.

The eagerly anticipated clash between the reigning Scottish Boys Champion David Wilson and Scotland Under 16 Internationalist Euan Walker was scheduled to take place on Sunday 11th September, but with the two finalists being selected as team mates in the Scotland Schools team to play England at Kilmarnock (Barassie) on Monday 12th, the final was brought forward to allow the players to join their teams for the scheduled practice get together on Sunday 11th.

The conditions were dry but a stiff breeze blew across the course from the South which promised to make it tricky for the players, and this proved to be the case for Wilson at the first as his drive was carried by the wind into the trees on the left. Although he played a great recovery shot it went through the green which gave Walker the opportunity to take an early lead, which he did.
Roles were reversed at the second hole, Walker finding trouble in the trees from the tee and Wilson taking advantage to square the match.

The third saw Wilson drive into the burn resulting in another loss to go down once again. The short fourth hole was another win for Wilson, as the match proved to be a nervy start from both players with the golf being a little scrappy early on.
The finalists - Euan Walker & David Wilson
The players halved successive holes from the fifth through to the seventh in pars, with Wilson having opportunities to reduce the deficit but being hampered by some indifferent putting.

Wilson's indifferent putting further contributed to Walker winning the eighth and ninth to turn for home with a four hole advantage.

A lost ball from the tee at the tenth hole by Wilson left Walker five holes ahead with only eight remaining, and left Wilson with a mountain to climb to get back into the match.

However Wilson had proved, particularly in his win at the Scottish Boys Championship at Dunbar in April when he came back from seven down with fourteen holes to play to take the title in extra holes, that he was a fine battler against the odds in matchplay, and this match proved no different.

When Walker found sand at the eleventh, Wilson reduced the deficit to four and when his drive at the 302 yard twelfth hole finished fifteen feet from the hole to set up a birdie three, the deficit was reduced to three.

 Walker stalled the comeback by halving the thirteenth but Wilson again applied pressure with a superb second shot to two feet at the fourteenth to set up another winning birdie three and reduce Walker's lead to just two holes.

Both players had unsuccessful birdie putts at the fifteenth as the hole was halved, but  when Walker missed a short put at the sixteenth hole, his lead in the match was further reduced to just one hole with two to play.

With pressure mounting, Walker's ball flew the seventeenth green and came to rest in trees whilst Wilson's effort from the tee landed on the left fringe of the green. Walker had a very difficult chip which just made the putting surface but Wilson's effort was strong and went some 8ft beyond the hole, helped by the slope on the green. Both players failed to convert their par putts and it was onto the last with Walker still holding a one hole advantage.

A long drive up the centre of the fairway from Wilson at the final hole kept the pressure on Walker, who pulled his tee shot slightly right. Finding his tee shot behind some pine trees and some twenty yards behind his opponent, it was time for Walker to show the qualities that has brought him recognition at national level in recent years. Rising to the challenge, he somehow hit a wonder shot to the right front fringe of the green.

Wilson was on a fairly severe upslope with his drive and his induced draw found trees about 50yds short of the green on the left with no shot at the flag. Capitalising on his superb second shot, Walker finished with a chip and putt to take the match.

Euan Walker receiving the trophy
from Loudoun GC Captain Liz Keohone
All in all it was an enthralling game between two sporting and talented golfers and while it was a pity that there had to be a loser on the day, it was nice to see Walker win a trophy after so many second places.

At the conclusion of the final, Loudoun Gowf Club Captain Liz Keohone presented vouchers, on behalf of The Ayrshire Golf Association, to both finalists and handed over the Junior Champion Of Champions Trophy to the 2011 winner, Euan Walker.

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