Thursday, May 07, 2015

AYRSHIRE MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP - Extra holes win completes title hat trick for Smyth

2015 Ayrshire Matchplay Champion
Michael Smyth
Michael Smyth (Royal Troon) completed a hat trick of Ayrshire Matchplay Championship titles at Prestwick St Cuthbert GC on Thursday evening with an extra holes victory over Stuart Miller (Kilmarnock Barassie)

Smyth, who previously won the title in 2011 and 2013, opened his bid for the 2015 crown with a winning birdie three at the opening hole, though Miller squared the match with a birdie at the par five third.

Further birdies but Smyth at the sixth and eighth holes saw him to the turn with a two hole lead and he increased his advantage to three with a par four at the tenth after Miller found trouble from the tee and was forced to take a penalty drop.

Smyth looked in control of the match at this stage but successive putts at the twelfth and thirteenth which hit the hole but failed to drop saw Smyth surrender both holes to Miller, reducing his lead to a single hole.

A par four at the fifteenth was good enough for Smyth to restore a two hole advantage with three to play and a half at the sixteenth left Smyth dormie two.

Smyth had the opportunity to close out the match at the seventeenth but a missed putt by Smyth allowed Miller to pull one back and a closing birdie four from the Barassie player, who bravely holed from six feet after Smyth's attempt for birdie had slipped past, saw the match finish all square after the scheduled 18 holes.

2015 finalists Michael Smyth & Stuart Miller
with Ayrshire Golf association and match referee James McMurdo
At the first extra hole, both players saw birdie putts narrowly miss and the match went on to the 20th hole, where Smyth was hampered by a tree following his tee shot  whilst Miller had a clear shot to the green. Smyth however produced a superb recovery shot to reach the green and again the hole was halved in par and the players went on to the 21st hole of the match, the third extra hole.

With both players safely in play from the tee at the par five third hole, Smyth hit an excellent wood for his second which just ran off the left side of the green, whilst Miller pulled his second a little, leaving him a tricky approach over a greenside bunker.

Miller played a good chip but the ball ran past the hole some fifteen feed and Smyth piled on the pressure with a good approach putt from the fringe to within a couple of feet of the hole.

Millers effort for birdie failed to drop and Smyth finished off the match, holing his short putt for a winning birdie four and the 2015 Ayrshire Matchplay Championship title.

At the conclusion of the match, Ayrshire Golf Association President James McMurdo paid tribute to both players and the greens staff of Prestwick St Cuthbert GC for the excellent condition in which the course was presented all week, before presenting vouchers to both finalists and handing over the trophy to the 2015 winner, Michael Smyth.

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