Golf: Winter League race revived as Fife slip up against East

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THE race for the title is back on in the Fife & Lothians Golf Associations Winter League after leaders Fife slipped up in their penultimate match.

Needing only a draw against East at Winterfield to clinch the crown, the men from the Kingdom lost 5.5-4.5 in a match that saw the home side making a rare decision to forfeit two games.

It allowed West to regain top spot after a big win over Mid at Craigmillar Park and Fife now can’t afford to slip up when they entertain East in a rescheduled match early in the New Year.

“We have already declared our intention to revert to a full ten-man team for that one,” declared East team manager Tom Gowan.

Choosing to start with eight players and being 2-0 down straight away left East with a tough task on a bitterly cold day at Winterfield. But this unusual strategy paid off as wins were delivered by Ross Noon, Zander Culverwell, Graham Davidson, Marc Simants and Scott Cunningham.

Noon, this year’s Lothians Order of Merit winner, got the home side off to a fine start with a good win over Ian Bell, while Culverwell holed a birdie putt on the last to defeat Kevin Blyth.

Winterfield man Davidson showed the benefit of local knowledge when he parred in the last few holes to also record a one-hole victory.

Simants played solidly to earn his point, with Stephen Neilson playing his part as well by earning a share of the spoils against 2010 South East District Open winner Scott Stewart-Cation.

It was left to youth player Cunningham to clinch East’s victory. He was one up on Greg Forrester playing the last, where both players were around 15 yards from the pin after good tee shots.

Under enormous pressure, Cunningham chipped to three feet and was conceded the hole after his opponent took 4.

West’s title hopes had suffered a setback when they lost away to Fife a fortnight earlier.

It meant they needed a favour from East on Sunday to stay in the hunt – and even now they need another favour from the same team.

That’s because Fife still only need a draw in the rescheduled match against East, which fell to the weather at Balbirnie Park at the beginning of November.