Saturday, August 16, 2014

AYRSHIRE CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS - Bryden edges out Pennycott on final green to take title

2014 Champion Of Champions Trophy winner
Gary Bryden (Girvan GC)
Gary Bryden (Girvan) edged out Malcolm Pennycott (Whiting Bay) to take the 2014 Ayrshire Champion Of Champions Trophy title at a windy Royal Troon GC on Friday 15th August. 

The two county players were both experiencing their first final appearance in the competition.

The play opened with a half in par at the first but Bryden edged in front with a par at the second as Pennycott's par putt horseshoed round the hole and failed to drop.

The match was levelled again at the third after Bryden was penalised for driving into the burn, but again Bryden went into the lead at the fourth when Pennycott found trouble in a bunker. More bunker trouble at the par three fifth hole for Pennycott saw him fall two holes behind in the match, but this deficit was reduced at the following hole, the sixth, when Pennycott secured a straight par whilst his opponent was short and left with his approach and failed to get up and down.

At the seventh, an over aggressive first putt by Bryden, which he failed to convert, contributed to him losing the hole to par and the match becoming all square.

The remaining two holes in the outward half were halved in pars, leaving the match all square at the turn.

With the wind strengthening on the inward half, Pennycott found trouble at the long and difficult eleventh prompting a concession to Bryden and the Girvan's champions lead being restored.

Having missed the green on the left at the twelfth in two, and failing to get up and down for par, Pennycott found him two holes behind in the match following Bryden's regulation par at the hole.

The thirteenth and fourteenth were both halved in pars, Pennycott producing the shot of the night with a superb pitch from thick rough to within a few inches of the hole to save his par three.

A lost ball from the tee at the fifteenth by Pennycott saw Bryden's lead increased to three, with three holes remaining to be played, and it looked very likely that Bryden would be crowned the new champion with holes to spare.

As it proved however, Malcolm Pennycott had other ideas. Despite finding heavy rough from the tee at the fifteenth, Pennycott played the remainder of the hole in great style, holing from just off the green for a birdie which, coupled with Bryden failing to get out of a greenside bunker, saw Pennycott keeping his hopes alive with a two hole lead with two remaining.

At the seventeenth, both players missed the green on the left and Pennycott had the better of the second shots to set up a conceded three and reduce the deficit further.

Pennycott's tee shot at the final hole was perfect whilst Bryden missed the fairway on the left and could only try to extricate the ball, taking a further two shots to get his ball back out the fairway.

The finalists with AGA President Milton Murray
Pennycott's pulled second shot came up short of the front of the green whilst Bryden's approach missed the green to the right, in four shots.

Malcolm Pennycott looked likely to win a third successive hole to take the match up the nineteenth, but his approach shot from the rough did no make the putting surface. Gary Btryden seized the small glimmer of hope by playing a superb chip under pressure, leaving his ball just a few inches from the hole for a conceded six.

Pennycott needed to get up and down from short of the greenside bunker on the left in two to secure a half match and take the tie into extra time, but his chip pulled up ten feet short of the hole, leaving him just one putt to keep his hopes alive.

Pennycott hit a good putt but watched agonisingly as it clipped the edge of the hole put travelled on past, failing to drop in for the win at the hole and leaving Gary Bryden as the winner of the match, and the championship trophy, by virtue of a one hole win.

At the conclusion of play, Ayrshire Golf Association President Milton Murray thanked Royal Troon for again hosting the semi finals and final, and after presenting vouchers to both finalists he handed over the Champion Of Champions Trophy to the 2014 winner, Gary Bryden.

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