Friday, May 10, 2013

AYRSHIRE MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP - Smyth wins title number 2 at St Nicholas

Michael Smyth (Royal Troon) won his second Ayrshire Matchplay Championship title on Thursday evening at Prestwick St Nicholas when he beat Scott Brown (Turnberry) in the final. 

2013 Ayrshire Matchplay Champion Michael Smyth (Royal Troon)

Smyth, who won his first title at Troon Portland in 2011, was never behind in the match against Brown, who won the title back in 2009 at nearby Prestwick GC, which was played in a most friendly and sporting manner in a blustery north easterly breeze.

Despite driving out of bounds at the first hole, Brown pushed Smyth all the way, recording a five despite the penalty stroke which left Smyth needing to make a four foot putt to win the hole.

The second was halved in par threes and the third in birdie threes as both players produced some excellent play over the opening holes. In particular, Brown putted superbly, taking just one putt at each of the opening six holes to keep Smyth's lead to just one hole.

Whilst Brown missed the long seventh with his second shot, Smyth found the front of the green, and Brown's first two putt of the day resulted in a bogey five which let Smyth increase his leasd to two holes with a safe par four.

Both players played superb second shots to a difficult pin position at the eighth hole but both missed good birdie opportunities and the players moved to the ninth hole with Smyth still two ahead.

At the ninth, Brown had an uncharacteristic and costly three putt for a bogey five to let Smyth increase his lead to three holes at the turn, with impressive outward figures of 34, one under par.

The 2013 Champion with his long term caddie,
father David Smyth
The 165 yard par three tenth hole saw Smyth through the green with his tee shot which resulted in his first dropped shot with a bogey four. Although he was unfortunate to see his tee shot roll back off the front of the green, Brown still looked favourite to reduce the deficit, but he could not manage to get up an down for his par and the hole was halved.

Like the ninth, Brown had a costly three putt at the par five eleventh, which allowed Smyth to increase his lead further to four holes, and at 206 yard twelfth it looked like Smyth would increase the lead even further before he missed a relatively short putt for his par three to drop what was to prove his only other shot against par in match, and allow Brown to half the hole.

With Smyth four ahead with only seven holes remaining, Brown needed to produce some special golf and he did so at the long thirteenth, holing a 20 foot putt for a birdie three to reduce the deficit to three holes, with six to play.

At the fourteenth, Smyth was just through the green to the left in two whilst Brown faced an approach shot from an ideal position in the centre of the fairway to a pin tucked perilously close to the greenside bunker on the right. Brown hit a fine shot but was unfortunate to find the breeze die down just as he hit his approach, resulting in the ball staying slightly right and ending up in the greenside bunker. With Smyth lying a few feet away in three, Brown faced an extremely difficult shot to extricate his ball from the hazard and stop it near to the pin, and in attempting to do so he left his effort in  the sand. His second attempt successfully found the green but a missed putt left him conceding a par four and the hole to Smyth who went dormie four  as a result.

At the 276 yard fifteenth hole, both players were close to the green with their tee shots and their approach shots were both within ten feet, with Brown lying slightly closer than Smyth. Michael Smyth's putt for the title stayed above ground, leaving Brown with a birdie putt to win the hole and keep the match alive, but Brown failed in his attempt to hole the putt and the hole was halved, giving Michael Smyth a 4 & 3 victory and the 2013 Ayrshire Matchplay title.

Despite the testing conditions, Smyth covered the holes played in commendable figures of one over par.

After the final, Ayrshire Golf Association President Milton Murray (Irvine) presented prizes to both finalists and  passed the Ayrshire Matchplay Trophy into the custody of the new champion, Michael Smyth, for 2013.

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