MORTONHALL stand between Royal Burgess and a fourth successive Edinburgh Summer League title after Graeme Stark’s side beat West Linton in a sudden-death shoot-out to book their spot in the final at Duddingston on Sunday week.
While Royal Burgess progressed with a surprisingly comfortable 6…-2… win over Dalmahoy in their semi-final at West Linton, it was a lot tighter in the other match played at Royal Burgess, where Scott James emerged as the Mortonhall hero after beating John McWilliams at the 19th in the deciding match.
At the turn, it was West Linton who had the upper hand as they led in five games to Mortonhall’s four. Mortonhall then led 3-2 after the first five games had been completed but were only up in one of the last four games.
Three down at one point, Martin Fitheridge fought back to be all square with three to go, only to lose at the last to Sean O’Brien. McWilliams came back from two down to square his match with James, but Ian Dickson recovered from four down to square his game with Nick Barr, holing a ten-footer at the last for birdie.
The drama continued as West Linton’s Scott Walker drove the last to win that with a birdie and square his match against Mike Cramond, leaving James and McWilliams to be sent down extra holes.
Both players found trouble but James eventually won the 19th to send Mortonhall into the final.
“What a match,” admitted a delighted Stark. “It was tremendously exiting to watch and it would be wrong of me not to mention and give credit to Simon Mackenzie and his team for their good sportsmanship and a cracker of a match.”
Mackenzie, who was disappointed to lose to a solid performance from Greg Nicolson at the top of the order, added: “Unfortunately, we never turned up, but there’s always next year.”
Dalmahoy had looked impressive in topping their section then blowing away Glencorse, last year’s runners-up, in the semi-finals.
But, despite getting off to a good start, they came unstuck against a Royal Burgess side that has developed a knack over the last few years of rising to the big occasion.
The early matches suggested a different story as Dougie Hunter blew away Grant Hill then Robert Carson beat Stephen Buckley.
In match No. 3, Gordon Archibald went one up with a birdie at 15 but Kevin Messer hit back with a birdie at 17 to square things up. Archibald then holed a three-footer to half the match at 18 and get the first score on the board for the defending champions.
That was as much as Dalmahoy were to get as the experienced Burgess tail kicked into action. John Yuille was four up through eight and won comfortably, then Doug Ross had a ding-dong match with Davie Marshall which the former won at the 17th.
After being up early on, Brian Tait saw his match out well to beat Graham Lovie, with John Fraser, Ian Taylor and Fraser McCluskey also winning to complete a great performance from the Barnton team.
“We knew we needed a big effort as Dalmahoy have blown everyone away so far this season and my team produced their best on the day,” said Burgess team manager Richard Hughes.
“We are delighted to be in the final again and are looking forward to pitting ourselves against Mortonhall.”
Summer League official Alan McIntosh added: “The back six Burgess men – Yuille, Ross, Tait, Fraser, Taylor and McCluskey – must have more match-play years between them than any other club bar none.”
Can Mortonhall stop this very impressive team at Duddingston? “They will have to hope the ‘auld men’ are a bit tired going into the final part of the season,” added McIntosh.
Dalmahoy 2…, Royal Burgess 6…: Dougie Hunter bt Grant Hill 7 and 6; Robert Carson bt Stephen Buckley 2 and 1 Kevin Messer halved with Gordon Archibald Callum Cochrane lost to John Yuille 5 and 4 David Marshall lost to Doug Ross 2 and 1 Graham Lovie lost to Brian Tait 5 and 4 Stuart Cochrane lost to John Fraser 3 and 2 Sandy Phillips lost to Ian Taylor 6 and 5 Chris Brown lost to Fraser McCluskey 2 and 1.
Mortonhall 5, West Linton 4: Greg Nicolson bt Simon Mackenzie 2 and 1; Jamie Kennedy lost to Stephen Smith 4 and 3; Brian Ross lost to Kenny Mail 4 and 3; Martin Hopey bt Sean Walter 5 and 4; Chris Timms bt Colin Taylor 5 and 4; Martin Fitheridge lost to Sean O’Brien one hole; Scott James bt John McWilliams at 19th; Ian Dickson halved with Nick Barr; Mike Cramond halved with Scott Walker.