Harrison edged a step closer to ending their Dispatch Trophy drought after making home advantage count on a night when the normally-beautiful Braids turned into a beast as it became shrouded in mist and rain.
Not since 2000 has the coveted prize ended up in Harrison’s hands, having been won by them as well in 1992 and 1995 at a time when they were the event’s dominant force.
But, based on the efforts so far of a quartet comprising of Dougie Waugh, Stuart More, Allan Stewart and Bryan Byars in the 117th staging, Harrison are the title favourites heading into tomorrow’s semi-finals.
In some of the worst conditions witnessed at the event in recent years, Harrison added Barnton Hotel, the 2001 victors, to a list of big wins in the first tournament with golfclubs4cash as the title sponsor.
Harrison’s front couple of Waugh and More finished one down to Ross Noon and Steve Hunter, who faced a constant battle trying to wipe water off his spectacles. But, at the back, club champion Byars and Stewart won nine up against Brian Hunter and Ben Alexander after winning eight of the first nine holes.
“Local knowledge was definitely an advantage tonight,” declared Byars, the only change from the side that lost to eventual winners Hailes in the semi-finals 12 months ago.
Summing up how miserable it had been out on the course, Waugh groaned: “I did not realise I had hands as they were so cold!”
Both More, who has picked up six medals in total, and Byars know what it takes to go the full distance so will be looking to call on that experience as the event gets to the business end while Waugh and Stewart are aiming to improve on the bronze medals to their names.
Harrison’s hopes of getting the chance to gain revenge on Hailes at the same stage on this occasion were dashed as the holders lost 4&3 to Carrickvale A.
The Vale’s front couple of Allyn Dick and Craig Deerness proved the difference in that tie, finishing five up on Marc Cairnie and Steve McCulloch helped by back-nine birdies at the 11th, 14th and 16th.
Former Lothians champion Dick holed a monster for the middle one before Deerness knocked one in from 25 feet for a par at the short 17th, where it was difficult to even see the green from the tee in the mist.
“Apart from a Saturday a few years ago, that is probably the most brutal conditions I’ve played in up here,” admitted Dick as he savoured Vale stepping up their bid for a fifth title triumph in ten years.
“Since I started playing, we’ve suffered two first-round losses but made it to the Saturday every other time,” he added.
“Harrison are obviously playing well so it is going to be another tough one for us, but fingers crossed ...for some decent weather as well!”
It was a tale of double disappointment for Hailes as the Kingsknowe club’s B team also bowed out, losing 8&6 to BBT.
The Turnhouse team had back couple Olly McCrone and Neil Anderson to thank for that success as they finished nine up on Alan Crabbe and Ciaran McCulloch.
“Neil was on fire on the greens tonight as he single-putted every one from the third through to the ninth,” reported McCrone.
At the front, the father-and-son duo of Keith and Michael Watt finished one down to Scott Finlayson and Steven McNaughton but BBT won’t be tempted to bring in a stronger pairing for the semi-finals.
“It takes two teams to win in this format and the boys at the front have played their part in us getting this far,” said McCrone.
BBT’s semi-final opponents are Heriots after they managed to limit the mistakes, which wasn’t easy in the conditions, in beating Scottish Universities 5&4.
The success guaranteed a medal for Dispatch Trophy stalwart John Archibald on his 40th anniversary, which is being made in the company of Rory Smith, David Campbell and Willem Kerr.
Harrison (D Waugh and S More 0; B Byars and A Stewart 7); Barnton Hotel (R Noon and S Hunter 1; B Hunter and B Alexander 0).
Harrison won 6&5
Carrickvale A (C Deerness and A Dick 5; C Elliot and P Cunningham 0); Hailes A (M Cairnie and S McCulloch 0; G Malone and A Mackay 1).
Carrickvale A won 4&3
Hailes B (S Finlayson and S McNaughton 1; A Crabbe and C McCulloch 0); BBT (K Watt and M Watt 0; N Anderson and O McCrone 9).
BBT won 8&6
Scottish Universities (A Room and P Pritchett 0; T Pakenham and D Greenshields 0); Heriots (J Archibald and R Smith 3; W Kerr and D Campbell 2).
Heriots won 5&4