Monday, September 09, 2019

SCOTTISH MEN'S AREA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP - Ayrshire lose out to Fife in final at Leven

The Ayrshire men's team came agonisingly close to a fourth Scottish Men's Area Team Championship title on Sunday 8th September at Leven Links, losing out to Fife in the final on the last green in the last tie on the course.

The 2019 Scottish Men's Area team Championship runners up from Ayrshire
Andrew Gilligan (Team Manager), Steven Stamper, Michael Smyth, Tommy McInally, John Watt (Area President)
Steven Wallace, Jim Johnston, Robbie Muir. 

Having previously won the title in 1986, 2008 and 2015 and being beaten semi finalists last year, Ayrshire cruised through the strokeplay qualifying rounds on Friday 7th September over the Leven Links and Scoonie courses in second place, behind top qualifiers Fife who were title winners on two previous occasions and were runners up in the championship twelve months ago.

In Saturday morning's quarter final matches, Ayrshire faced the defending champions North of Scotland, and won through to the semi finals in a tight encounter, eventually recording a 3.5 - 1.5 win.

Tommy McInally (Loudoun) and Steven Stamper (Turnberry) provided the pairing for the one foursomes tie and won 3 & 1 against Douglas Thorburn (Wick) and Kieran Mackay (Inverness) to put Ayrshire ahead.

A 3&2 defeat for Jim Johnston (Ayr Belleisle) by Jeff Wright (Forres) was offset by Michael Smyth (Royal Troon) beating Lewis Reid (Fortrose & Rosemarkie) by 4&3, leaving Ayrshire 2 - 1 ahead with two tie remaining on course.

The two remaining ties were closely fought but when Steven Wallace (Prestwick St Cuthbert) secured a 2 hole victory over Jordan Shaw (Boat of garten) in the anchor tie, Ayrshire's place in the semi finals was assured.

With the remaining tie between Robbie Muir (Kilmarnock Barassie) and David Joel (Inverness) all square and the result of the overall match decided in Ayrshire's favour, there was no need for the tie to proceed to extra holes and the result was confirmed as a 3.5 - 1.5 win for Ayrshire.

In the other quarter final matches Fife crushed South of Scotland 5 - 0, Lothians beat Stirlingshire 4 - 1 and North east overcame Lanarkshire by 3 - 2.

In Saturday afternoon's semi finals Ayrshire played North East whilst Fife faced Lothians.

Tommy McInally and Steven Stamper again joined forces in te foursomes pairing and had a second successive 3 & 1 win, over Bryan Innes (Murcar Links) and Anthony Bews (Murcar Links) to get Ayrshire off to the perfect start once again.

A 3 & 1 win for Michael Smyth over David Morrison (Meldrum House) and a 5 & 4 win for Robbie Muir in his tie against Adam Dunton (McDonald) ensured Ayrshire's place in the final.

Steven Wallace, again playing the anchor leg, won his second successive singles tie with a 2 & 1 victory over Barrie Edmond (Bon Accord) and a half match for Jim Johnston against mark halliday (Royal Aberdeen) wrapped up a 4.5 - 0.5 win for Ayrshire in the semi final.

In the other semi final Fife edged out Lothians by 3 - 2 to ensure that the top two seeded teams would contest the final match.

The final on Sunday 8th September comprised three foursomes ties in the morning with six singles in the afternoon.

Jim Johnston & Robbie Muir opened positively for Ayrshire in the foursomes against James White (Lundin) and Greg Wishart (Lundin) with a 4 & 3 victory but the other two foursomes were both lost 3 & 2, the pairing of Tommy McInally and Steven Stamper losing for the first time in three starts, against Andrew Davidson (Charleton Members) and Fraser Carr (Crail), and Steven wallace and Michael Smith going down to Steven Aitken (Leven Thistle) and Scott Crichton (Leven Thistle).

Trailing  2 - 1 after the morning foursomes, Ayrshire needed to win four of the six singles for victory, and well into the afternoon ties it looked possible that the time might just be able to achieve the task, despite the odds against.

Jim Johnston, in the lead singles tie, secured a 3 & 1 win over James White to level the match score 2 - 2 before Robbie Muir put Ayrshire ahead with a 3 & 2 win over Greg Wishart in the third tie on the course.

Fife drew level once more when Scott Crichton beat Michael Smyth 2 & 1 and with Tommy Mcinally losing to Fraser Carr by 2 & 1 in the penultimate tie and Steven Wallace maintaining his 100% singles record by beating Andrew Davidson in the anchor tie, the match score stood at 4 - 4 with the destiny of the title resting with the tie between Steven Stamper and Steven Aitken.

In a nailbiting finale, the tie went to the last green but to the disappointment of Ayrshire and the delight of the Fife team, it was Steven Aitken who won the tie by a single hole to give fife the 2019 Area team Championship title with a 5 - 4 victory in the final.

The performance and team spirit displayed of the Ayrshire team was a credit to the county and though tinged with disappointment at the final result, the team members and officials can all take great credit for the performance in the 2019 championship.

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