Tuesday, May 07, 2019

AYRSHIRE MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP - First round winners at Irvine

The first round of the 2019 Ayrshire Matchplay Championship took place at Irvine Golf Club on Monday 6th May, with the sixteen qualifiers whittled down to eight, who go forward to the quarter finals on Tuesday night.

Stuart Miller & Michael Smyth
Strokeplay title holder and defending matchplay champion Michael Smyth (Royal Troon) got his title defence off to a successful start when he defeated Stuart Miller (Kilmarnock Barassie) in their first round encounter.

Smyth got off to a great start, taking the first two holes with a par and a birdie, and he maintained his two hole advantage through the next five holes which were all halved in pars.

Smyth extended his lead to three holes with a par three at the eighth but a birdie three at the ninth for Miller saw the lead reduced again to two holes at the turn.

The inward half opened with a run of three halved holes in par fours before successive birdie threes by Smyth at the thirteenth and fourteenth put him four ahead with four to play. What looked like a comfortable position for Smyth was not quite so when he bogeyed the fifteenth and sixteenth which allowed Miller to reduce the deficit to two, but the defending champion rallied at the penultimate hole, recording a birdie three to take the tie by 3&1.

Keith Hamilton & John Shanks
In the quarter finals on Tuesday night Michael Smyth will face 2016 winner John Shanks (Irvine) in a rerun of the final of that year.

Shanks booked his place in the last eight with a win over Keith Hamilton (Ayr Belleisle) on Monday evening. The match started slowly with both players struggling over the opening three holes, Shanks holding a one hole advantage going to the fourth. With the fourth and fifth halved in pars, Shanks extended his lead at the sixth when Hamilton could only make a bogey five, and although Hamilton reduced the deficit with a par at the eighth, a par four at the ninth was enough for Shanks to restore his two hole lead after nine.

Hamilton reduced the deficit at the eleventh with a birdie three, courtesy of a colossal 57 foot putt, and a further birdie three at the thirteenth from Hamlton saw the match all square for the first time since the second hole.

With four holes to play the match remained all square but successive threes from Shanks at the fifteenth and sixteenth restored his two hole lead and he closed out the match with a half in fours at the seventeenth, for a 2&1 win.

Greg Watson & Tommy McInally
Tommy McInally (Loudoun), who won the matchplay title in 2006, was the first player through to the second round on Monday evening when his tie with Greg Watson (West Kilbride) ended prematurely on the third hole, when a back injury forced Watson to withdraw.

Blair Morton & Shaun Hedger
McInally will now play Blair Morton (Royal Troon) in Tuesday's quarter finals after Morton defeated the 2018 runner up Shaun Hedger (West Kilbride) in the opening round.

Three birdies in the opening three holes saw Morton take an early two hole lead, and although Hedger reduced the deficit with a birdie three at the fifth, Morton restored his two hole advantage at the sixth and extended it to three holes after a birdie two at the eighth before turning for home with a four hole advantage when he took the ninth with a par four.

Morton's lead was stretched to five with a par four at the eleventh and he closed the match out by winning the thirteenth for a 6&5 victory.

William Fleming & Barry O'Rourke
William Fleming (Ballochmyle) and Barry O'Rourke (Louodun) fought out a fine match in the opening round before Fleming booked his place in the quarter finals with victory on the seventeenth green.

Fleming took an early two hole advantage, the first being conceded after O'Rourke found trouble from the tee and Fleming followed that with a good birdie four at the second, and Fleming's two hole advantage was maintained through five, before a second shot out of bounds prompted a concession from Fleming at the sixth and a superb approach from O'Rourke at the seventh to set up a winning birdie meant the match was all square after seven.

At the ninth a birdie three from Fleming gave him the hole and a single hole advantage as the players turned for home, but again O'Rourke countered with a birdie three at the tenth to square the match once again.

At the eleventh, a par four from Fleming was good enough to restore a single hole advantage which was maintained through thirteen before Fleming went two ahead by taking the fourteenth with a par four. Fleming maintained his two hole lead through fifteen but a three putt from him at the sixteenth allowed O'Rourke to reduce the deficit to one hole, with two to play.

Despite his best efforts, O'Rourke couldn't match a fine par four from Fleming at the seventeenth which saw him take the hole and the match with a 2&1 victory.

William Fleming will now play 2009 winner Scott Brown (Prestwick St Cuthbert) in Tuesday's quarter finals, after brown overcame Malcolm Pennycott (Royal Burgess) in their opening round match.
Scott Brown & Malcolm Pennycott

Brown took the early initiative in his opening match, a par at the first being followed by two birdies to give him a two hole lead after three. The fifth and sixth were exchanged, with pars being good enough to win both holes, and the remaining holes in the outward nine were halved, leaving brown with a two hole lead at the turn.

Pennycott reduced the lead to one at the tenth with a winning birdie three but a bogey from him at the eleventh, followed by a birdie three by Brown at the twelfth put brown three ahead in the match with six holes to play.

Pennycott birdied the fourteenth to reduce the defecit to two holes and when a par three from Pennycott was good enough for a win at the sixteenth, Brown's lead was reduced to one hole with two to play.

Despite his courageous fightback, Pennycott could only manage a bogey five at the penultimate hole and Brown took full advantage, winning the hole with a par for a 2&1 victory in the tie.

Greg Vernon & Robbie Muir
Robbie Muir (Kilmarnock Barassie) is also through to the quarter finals following victory over clubmate Greg Vernon (Kilmarnock Barassie) in their opening round clash.

Vernon took the early lead when the first was conceded but Muir hit back immediately in some style with an eagle three at the second to square the tie, before a birdie three at the third put him one ahead.

Vernon immediately squared the match again with a par a the fourth and quickly took a two hole advantage when he won the fifth with a birdie and the sixth with a par., a lead which he maintained through the turn.

Muir reduced Vernon's lead to one with a birdie three at the tenth and a concession from Vernon at the eleventh brought the match to all square, before Muir took the lead again with a birdie three at the thirteenth.

The fifteenth hole proved crucial, a par four being enough for Mur to increase his lead to two holes, and a par three at the sixteenth was enough for Muir to take the hole also, and secure a 3&2 win.

Darren Mallinson & John Haggarty
In the quarter finals on Tuesday evening Robbie Muir will play local member Darren Mallinson (Irvine) who edged into the last eight with victory over John Haggarty (Loudoun) in the only tie of the evening which was not decided after eighteen and progressed to extra holes.

In a tight match, Haggarty won the first hole and maintained the lead until Mallinson squared the match at the sixth. A par three at the eighth from Haggarty was enough to restore his one hole advantage which he maintained through the turn.

Par fours were enough to exchange the opening two holes of the inward half and a birdie three at the twelfth saw Mallinson square the match once more, only to see Haggarty take the fourteenth with a birdie and the fifteenth with a concession  to go two up with three to play.

Mallinson kept in the match with a winning par three at the sixteenth and a half in fours at the seventeenth to go to the final hole one down.

At the last hole of the regulation round, Haggarty was just off the green in two whilst Mallinson safely found the putting surface with his approach. Putting first, Haggarty left his third shot some six feet short of the hole, and when Mallinson failed to convert his birdie effort, but secured an easy par four, Haggarty had a putt for the match. Despite his best efforts, Haggarty's par putt failed to drop and the match was all square, and progressed to extra holes.

At the first extra hole the players halved in par fours, but Mallinson made the decisive move on the second extra hole, converting a fine second shot approach to the par five with a putt for an eagle three to win the tie at the 20th hole of the match.

The quarter final line up for Tuesday evening is:-

MICHAEL SMYTH (Royal Troon) Vs. JOHN SHANKS (Irvine)

TOMMY McINALLY (Louodun) vs. BALIR MORTON (Royal Troon)

WILLIAM FLEMING (ballochmyle) vs. SCOTT BROWN (Prestwick St Cuthbert)

ROBBIE MUIR (Kilmarnock Barassie) Vs. DARREN MALLINSON (Irvine)

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