Thursday, July 08, 2021

AYRSHIRE MATCHPLAY CHAMPIONSHIP - New champion guaranteed in all St Cuthbert final.

The Ayrshire Matchplay Championship trophy will be guaranteed to have a new name engraved on it in 2021 following completion of the semi final matches over the Prestwick St Cuthbert course on Wednesday the 7th of July, with the host club guaranteed to celebrate a county champion in an all Prestwick St Cuthbert final.

The first semi final out on Wednesday was an all Prestwick St Cuthbert affair with Mark Watt up against Graeme Gimson for a place in the final match.

The match was close in the early stages with the players all square after three holes but when Mark Watt missed his par putt at the fourth it heralded an unstoppable run from Graeme Gimson, in which he initially took three successive holes from the fourth to go three up after six. A half in pars at the short seventh was small respite for Mark Watt as Graeme Gimson took both the eight and ninth to turn for home with a five hole lead. At the tenth Mark Watt was unlucky to find a fairway bunker just short of the green from the tee, and after pushing his second wide of the green he did well to get up and down for a par four. Not relaxing the pressure in any way however, Graeme Gimson's second shot stopped just four feet from the hole and he converted the putt for a winning birdie three to go six up with eight to play. halved holes at the eleventh and twelfth left Graeme Gimson dormie six and when mark Watt found trouble on the left from the thirteenth tee, he conceded the hole and the match to Graeme Gimson by 7 & 5.

The second semi final between John Shanks (Irvine) and Craig Telfer (Prestwick St Cuthbert) looked likely to be a well matched affair, and so it proved to be, going all the way to the final green before a winner emerged.

Craig Telfer took the lead at the first when John Shanks missed a four foot putt for par and after the second was halved Craig Telfer increased his match lead to two holes at the third, a second shot to within 12 feet of the hole setting up a two putt birdie four to win the hole. Craig Telfer maintained his lead through four, but successive birdies on five and six from John Shanks squared the match at that stage. John Shanks pulled his tee shot at the seventh and could only manage a bogey four, but Craig Telfer failed to capitalise, his 2 foot par putt hitting the hole but spinning out. The next two holes were also halved, leaving the match all square as the players turned for home. 

At the tenth Craig Telfer regained the lead with a 12 foot birdie putt, John Shanks missing his birdie effort to the left of the hole from 7 feet away. The single hole advantage was maintained until the thirteenth where Craig Telfer holed and eighteen foot  putt for a birdie three, after John Shanks had just missed his birdie effort from twenty feet, to restore Craig Telfer's two hole lead. Again John Shanks hit back, and when both players missed the short fourteenth green on the left from the tee, it was he who got up and down successfully to reduce the match deficit to a single hole once again.Both players had birdie chances at the fifteenth after ideal tee shots and fine approach play, but both players missed their putts and the single hole lead remained.

At the sixteenth both players pulled their tee shots into trees on the right and whilst John Shanks found the green in three, Craig telfer's first tee shot was lost and he had to return to the tee to put a second ball in play. Despite his best efforts he could manage no better than a double bogey six and John Shanks successfully two putted for a bogey five to square the match with two holes to play.

Both players missed the green on the right from the tee at the short seventeenth, but John Shanks found the rear greenside bunker whilst Craig Telfer's ball stopped on the fringe of the green. Though he played a fine bunker shot to within nine feet of the hole, John Shanks faced a difficult downhill putt and his par effort just slipped past the left side of the hole. Craig Telfer's first putt from just off the green ran a couple of feet past the hole but he was able to hole the return for a winning par three and a single hole lead going to the last.

After the tee shots at the final hole, things looked good for Craig Telfer, his tee shot finishing in perfect position, 210 yards from the green whilst John Shanks pushed his drive right and found heavy rough in a copse of trees, from which he did extremely well to get his ball back into play and leave him a 180 yard shot to reach the green in regulation. Craig Telfer's second, with an iron, pulled up in the right rough, about thirty yards short of the green and the advantage still appeared to lie with him. John Shank however used his vast experience to produce a superb approach shot to the green which came to rest twelve feet to the left of the hole, and maintain his slim hopes of taking the tie to extra holes, but to Craig Telfer's great credit, his approach shot was executed well, rolling up to within ten feet of the cup, and crucially ensuring that John Shanks would putt first for a birdie. In the event, John Shanks' birdie effort missed to the right of the hole, which prompted a concession of Craig Telfer's putt and a 2 hole victory in the match. 

The final takes place at Prestwick St Cuthbert on Thursday the 8th of July, teeing off just before 5.00 p.m.

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