Keith MacKenzie won’t have to worry about getting stick about a “dodgy short game” for a while after holing the key putt in this season’s Edinburgh Summer League final.
In a battle between two teams vying to lift the title for the first time, the honour went to Bruntsfield Links as they beat West Linton 5.5-3.5 at Musselburgh.
It meant the trophy for the Pollock (Scotrans) Ltd-sponsored event didn’t move far after being in the clutches of neighbours Royal Burgess for the last six years.
Bruntsfield Links looked to be coasting to victory after all the matches had gone through the turn, only for a West Linton fightback to tighten things up.
With the scores locked at 2-2, the match between MacKenzie and former Scottish Amateur champion Simon Mackenzie became pivotal.
Four down at one point, the West Linton man edged in front with a birdie from three feet at the 15th and had the bit between his teeth.
But MacKenzie rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 16th then holed one from even further away – downhill and with a big break on it, too – at the last to clinch a crucial point.
“It was a nice one to see drop,” he said, beaming. “Simon was a bit off at the start, but then showed his class in the middle, so it was a good one to win.”
After clinching the victory as he came out on top by two holes against Scott Walker, Kevin Cattanach greeted his team-mate at the 18th by saying: “MacKenzie can putt!”
Picking up on that, Bruntsfield Links team manager Douglas Livingstone said: “Keith has always been a fabulous ball-striker, but he’s often getting wound up about a dodgy short game.
“However, he’ll be living out on that putt at the 18th for a few years to come, I’d imagine, and rightly so.”
Two days after producing a superb performance to pass the first stage test in this season’s European Tour Qualifying School, Zander Culverwell led the order for Bruntsfield Links.
A bit wayward on this occasion, last year’s Scottish Amateur champion found himself two down with five to play against Kenny Mail before winning the 14th and 15th.
But Mail responded to that thrust by rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 16th then played the last two holes solidly to hold out for an excellent win.
It made the scores 1-1 as two-times Lothians champion Alan Anderson had already drawn first blood for Bruntsfield Links with a 5&4 victory over Paul Neil.
Stuart McLaren won the first then halved the next eight holes with Stephen Smith before going two up with a birdie at the tenth.
The lively Bruntsfield Links youngster went on to win that one 3&1, picking the perfect day to “hit it the best all year”.
The scores were level again when Scott MacKay beat John Liddel 3&2, but, with MacKenzie’s win quickly being followed by a 5&4 success for Ally Ritchie over Sean Walter, Bruntsfield Links had a two-point cushion.
And, though Nick Barr survived a “three-putt wobble” at the 17th to beat David Wallace, Cattanach’s win closed the door on West Linton.
“It was tight for a while, but I am delighted we got the job done in the end,” said Livingstone. “It’s been a real squad effort this season, with 17 guys playing their part in this first Summer League title triumph for the club.
“I don’t think the winning run by Royal Burgess over the last few years will ever be matched, but we are looking forward to defending the title.
“I’m sure it won’t be too long before West Linton get their name on the trophy as well for the first time as they’ve been knocking at the door over the last few years and are a great bunch of guys.”
Cattanach added: “Having played in this event for so many years, it is great to finally win it. Seeing Royal Burgess do so well in the event in recent years was certainly a motivation and hopefully the trophy can stay on the other side of the fence for a while now.”
For West Linton, their good work in ending the Royal Burgess reign ultimately went unrewarded, but Barr is hoping they can get back in the title reckoning again in 12 months’ time.
“The guys are obviously disappointed to have fallen at the final hurdle, but they have done fantastically well this season,” he said. “We’ll dust ourselves down and hopefully be back another day.”
Match details (West Linton names first): Kenny Mail bt Zander Culverwell one hole; Paul Neil lost to Alan Anderson 5&4; Stephen Smith lost to Stuart McLaren 3&1; Simon Mackenzie lost to Keith MacKenzie one hole; Scott MacKay bt John Liddel 3&2; Nick Barr bt David Wallace two holes; Scott Walker lost to Kevin Cattanach two holes; Sean Walter lost to Ally Ritchie 5&4; Sean O’Brien halved with Mark Kernaghan.