This was the last match of the season for the South Juniors in the Northern Counties League. Durham Juniors were the visitors to Thornhill Golf Club on Friday 12 August on a damp and cloudy day with the threat of heavy rain not far away. The course was in very good condition although both teams found the greens on the slow side. Two of the South boys, Rowan Marchbank and Greg Rice, were making their last appearance as next year they would be overage, and were determined to help produce a positive result.
Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) and Taylor Kerr (Sanquhar) got off to a fine start in the morning foursomes by winning the first two holes, but then lost the next 3 and were one down after 5. They pulled this back to all square after 8 and held on to share the points with a birdie four on the eighteenth. Angus Bendall (Castle Douglas) and Rowan Marchbank (D&G), who was probably trying too hard, never gelled. Two down after 8 was brought back to one down after 12 with a birdie but that was the end of their fight back and they lost by 4 and 2.
Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright) and Ian Rae (Dalbeattie) also took a long time to settle and find the pace of the greens and were one down after 5, two down after 8 but recovered to be 2 up after 14. They then lost two of the next three holes but won the last with a birdie to win their game by 1 hole. The final pairing of the two Dumfries & County members, Greg Rice and Lewis Fraser, played very steadily and never looked in trouble. Two up after 5 they then won 6 and 7 to be four up after 8 and coasted to a 6 and 5 victory and an early lunch.
The foursomes score at lunch was South 2½ games Durham 1½.
In the afternoon singles Callum McMillan continued his good form of the morning and took an early lead of two up after 4. He was pegged back to all square after 8 and 10 and was one up standing on the 17th tee. A bad tee shot on 17 lost him that hole and he also lost 18 to lose by one hole. Taylor Kerr was one down after 8 and then after a bad tee shot at 9 he sank a 25 foot par putt for a half to remain one down. At 10, he sank a 25 yard chip for birdie to go one up and continued his good play to be dormie three standing on the 16th tee. Taylor lost 16 to a par 3 and 17 to an eagle when his playing partner put his tee shot to 5 feet. One up playing the last he could only get a par to his opponent’s birdie and had to settle for a halved match. Both boys played some super golf and their fighting spirit was much to be admired.
The fighting qualities of Angus Bendall have never been in doubt but these were not sufficient for him to secure the first singles win for the South. Angus was 2 under par for the first nine and 1 down. Two down after 10 he could not recover and he lost by 4 and 2. Nathan Watson, two up after 4 and three up after 10 and coasting, had to overcome a fight back when he lost 16 and 17 to birdies and was relieved to halve the last with a birdie to win by 1 hole.
Lewis Fraser had a bad day at the office when he lost five holes in the first nine and no matter how hard he tried he could not recover and lost 7 and 5. Iain Rae recovered from two down after 4 to two up after 10 but had to fight to the end to secure a halved game. This left the South needing to win the last two games still out on the course to win the match. As fortune would have it, the onus fell on Rowan Marchbank and Greg Rice, the two boys playing their last match for South Juniors.
Both had a bad start, Rowan being 2 down after 10 and Greg four down after 8. Rowan then found his rhythm and his swing found the right groove and he fought back to be one up standing on the eighteenth tee. A par at the last ensured a one hole victory. Greg has been the anchorman all season for his never-give-up attitude and fighting spirit and these qualities he proved in abundance as he overturned the four hole deficit into a 2 and 1 deserved victory.
Five of the eight singles games went to the eighteenth green with South winning two, halving two and losing one. On another day the match result could have been completely different.
In the eyes of the rest of the team, the two old boys became two young men in the space of 3 hours and entered the folklore of South Juniors. They will be missed next year for their fighting spirit and leadership.
The singles result was South 4 games Durham 4 games and the match was won by South by 6½ games to 5½. A very close match enjoyed by both teams.
The South had a fairly successful campaign playing 6, winning 4 and losing 2. The boys were disappointed to lose both games against Cumbria but are already looking forward to next year.
Callum McMillan (Kirkcudbright) and Taylor Kerr (Sanquhar) halved with Harrison Hodgson and Jacob Brown
Angus Bendall (Castle Douglas) and Rowan Marchbank (D&G) lost to Will Marshall and Ben Jones by 4 & 2
Nathan Watson (Kirkcudbright) and Iain Rae (Dalbeattie) beat Scott Lyons and Rio Jones by 1 hole
Lewis Fraser (D&C) and Greg Rice (D&C) beat Josh Howgarth and Ben Souley by 6 & 5
Foursomes Result South 2½ Durham 1½
Callum McMillan lost to Harrison Hodgson by 1 hole
Taylor Kerr halved with Jacob Brown
Angus Bendall lost to Will Marshall by 4 & 2
Nathan Watson beat Ben Jones by 1 hole
Rowan Marchbank beat Rio Jones by 1 hole
Iain Rae halved with Scott Lyons
Lewis Fraser lost to Josh Howgarth by 7 & 5
Greg Rice beat Ben Souley by 2 & 1
Singles Results South 4 Durham 4
Match Result South 6½ Durham 5½
The photograph shows the South Junior team who narrowly beat Durham Juniors. From the left: Taylor Kerr, Iain Rae, Nathan Watson, Angus Bendall, Lewis Fraser, Greg Rice, Rowan Marchbank and Callum McMillan