The top eight players in the Stroke Play Championship gathered again at Kirkcudbright Golf Club on Wednesday 13 July to compete in the Match Play Championship. The weather this time was more favourable with sunny intervals and a brisk breeze coming off the sea and with the course in magnificent condition some good matches were expected.
Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright), the stroke play champion, was first off against the young and up-and-coming David Sharp (D&C). David played very well from tee to green but could not get the putts to drop. He never gave up and fought to the end but was beaten by 6 & 5. The match between Mitchell Cowie (D&C) and Callum McMillan always promised to be a hard fought affair between two young players on the top of their form. After eight holes the match was all square although Mitchell had never been in the lead. This pattern continued into the second nine until Callum took his chance to win the 17th and the match 2 & 1.
William Squires (Kirkcudbright) took an early lead against Ross Whyte (D&G) to be two up after 6 holes. He won the short 9th to increase his lead to 3 up and continued his steady and unrelenting pressure to win by 5 & 4. William’s score for his holes played was one under par and Ross was four over. This was good shooting by both players. In the last match two more youngsters, Cameron Gray (Kirkcudbright) and Glen Irvine (D&G), fought tooth and nail to progress to the semi-finals. Cameron was two up after eight, lost the ninth but had regained his two hole lead after the 11th before again losing the 12th to be one up. Glen hit his second shot at 14 to six feet only to watch the birdie putt slide agonisingly passed. Three from the edge of the green was not good enough to equal Cameron’s par 3 at the fifteenth but this did not deter him and he won the short 16th with a par to be only one down with two to play. At the 17th Cameron’s pitch was stone dead when Glen’s chip hit the pin and refused to drop. Two regulation par 4’s at the last gave Cameron a one hole victory after an exciting match between two well matched players.
On Thursday 14 July the four Kirkcudbright members returned to their home course to play the semi-finals on a warm sunny summer’s day. Nathan Watson played good steady golf without sinking any putts but was two down after eight before he won his first hole at the 9th. Callum McMillan went two up at the 12th, Nathan birdied the 14th only for Callum to reply with a long monster putt for birdie at the par three 15th to halve . Callum went two up after he parred 16 and Callum’s approach shot to 6 feet at the 17th ensured a 3 & 1 victory.
William Squires and Cameron Gray played some erratic golf over the outward nine and after 11 holes William had a one hole lead. Cameron’s putter then went into overdrive and he won the twelfth, had birdies at 14 from 4 feet and 15 from 7 feet, and chipped stone dead at 17 to win 2 & 1.
The final in the afternoon between the fifteen year old Cameron Gray and fourteen year old Callum McMillan promised to be a marvellous game between two well matched young golfers provided both could control their nerves. Cameron three putted the first and the next three holes were halved before Callum won a rather scrappy 5th hole to go 2 up. Callum had started the steadier but Cameron soon found his composure and won 6 and 8 for the match to turn all square. Cameron then won the next three holes and Callum three of the following four to square the match as they stood on the 17th tee. Both the last two holes were halved with neither being prepared to give any advantage to his opponent.
Both players were very tired, both mentally and physically, as they teed off at the nineteenth tee. Callum sank a birdie putt of 20 feet and Cameron followed him in from 4 feet. The 20th was halved in pars and at the 21st Callum sunk a long birdie putt only for Cameron to follow him in. After two good drives on the 22nd Callum’s approach shot ran up the slope behind the green and from the same distance Cameron played a super shot to be 7 feet from the hole. Unfortunately Callum took three more to get down and Cameron had won the South of Scotland Junior Match Play title for 2016. A magnificent match, played in a very friendly and competitive spirit with neither player deserving to lose. The future of South Junior Golf looks bright with these four Kirkcudbright members.
Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright) beat David Sharp (D&C) by 6 & 5
Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) beat Mitchell Cowie (D&C) by 2 & 1
William Squires (Kirkcudbright) beat Ross Whyte (D&G) by 5 & 4
Cameron Gray (Kirkcudbright) beat Glen Irvine (D&G) by 1 hole
Callum McMillan beat Nathan Watson by 3 & 1
Cameron Gray beat William Squires by 2 & 1
Cameron Gray beet Callum McMillan at 22nd
The photograph shows Alastair Millar, President of South of Scotland Golfers’ Association, presenting the trophy to Cameron Gray with runner-up Callum McMillan on the left.