CHRIS WOOD holed a shot in the dark to claim the scalp of host club hope Robert Carson in the first round of the Lothians Championship at Dalmahoy last night.
The 31-year-old North Berwick player was struggling to see the hole on the 18th green as darkness descended at the Kirknewton venue, but he managed to roll in a 20-foot par putt to stun Carson just when it looked as though he was going to take the tie up the 19th.
“I’ve no idea how long the putt actually was as it was dark,” said Wood, who had got his nose in front in a tight tussle by hitting an 8-iron stiff for a hole-winning birdie-2 at the 17th.
Wood was among six players over 30 to progress to round two. His next opponent, Ratho Park’s Alastair Macphail, squeezed through thanks to a birdie-4 at the 19th against Pumpherston teenager Andrew Loch. The event holds a special place in the hearts of the Macphail family after Alastair’s big brother, Callum, became the first player to win it back-to-back exactly 20 years ago.
“That was a tremendous achievement by Callum, who now plays his golf at Royal Wimbledon, and I’d love to win it as well,” said the 34-year-old.
Former professional Neil Sneddon made it a Ratho Park double as he bagged four birdies, including a 50-footer at the 12th, to beat Royal Musselburgh youngster Stuart Blair. He now faces Dunbar’s Stephen Simants after his success by a similar 3 and 2 margin against Harburn’s Stephen Murray.
“It was nip and tuck and I was down before winning the seventh and ninth,” said Simants who has come close to winning outright in recent years.
Former winners Steven Armstrong (Turnhouse) and Keith Nicholson (Haddington), two of the other 30-somethings, are both off and running in the event again. Armstrong overcame a knee injury he sustained in Saturday’s qualifying to win comfortably against Bathgate’s Simon Lockhart.
“I twisted my knee playing out of a bunker and would have quit if I hadn’t had a good score in the morning,” said Armstrong, who needed a couple of painkillers before teeing off and was also wearing a leg brace.
He now takes on Pumpherston’s Paul Drake, who beat Duddingston’s David Miller 3 and 1. Four-time champion Nicholson held on for his 2 and 1 win over Greenburn’s Gary Corrigan, who was four down with four to play before winning the 15th, with a birdie, and the 16th.
“I was hanging on a bit at the end,” said Nicholson, who had earlier won four holes in a row, two of them with birdies, from the fifth to be five up at the turn. His next opponent is Linlithgow’s Ed Shannly, who won at the first extra hole against Dougie Waugh after the Baberton man had produced a great up and down at the 17th to stay alive then hit his second shot close to win the last.
Results: K Nicholson (Haddington) bt G Corrigan (Greenburn) 2 and 1; E Shannly (Linlithgow) bt D Waugh (Baberton) at 19th; S Armstrong (Turnhouse) bt S Lockhart (Bathgate) at 19th; P Drake (Pumpherston) bt D Miller (Duddingston) 3 and 1; N Sneddon (Ratho Park) bt S Blair (Royal Musselburgh) 3 and 2; S Simants (Dunbar) bt S Murray (Harburn) 3 and 2; A Macphail (Ratho Park) bt A Loch (Pumpherston) at 19th; C Wood (North Berwick) bt R Carson (Dalmahoy) one hole.