Mortonhall have added to their 125th anniversary celebrations by winning the Edinburgh Summer League for the first time.
“This gives us something extra to celebrate,” said a smiling Graeme Stark after watching his team recover from losing the first two matches to beat Baberton 6-3 in the final at Turnhouse.
As Ian Gourlay, Stark’s Baberton counterpart, admitted, it was a fitting outcome after the way Mortonhall had made it to the title showdown in this season’s event.
They’d beaten both Royal Burgess, the event’s dominant force over the past decade, and defending champions Turnhouse away in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
“Congratulations to Graeme and his players,” said Gourlay. “We are obviously disappointed to lose but, in fairness to Mortonhall, they deserve this triumph after pulling off two exceptional results to get to the final.”
On a Turnhouse course in superb condition, Baberton drew first blood as Dougie Waugh recorded a splendid 5&4 win over Rob Paterson in the battle between the two club champions at the top of the order. “I played pretty solid, being under par for the holes played, and it is always good to get that first point on the board,” said Waugh.
Matt Kaye then made it 2-0 for Baberton, who were bidding to lift the title for the first time since 1999 and third time in the event’s history, as he beat Graeme Clark 2&1.
That was Clark’s first defeat in the whole campaign and, though disappointed it came on this particular stage, there is no denying that he played a big part in the title triumph.
Mortonhall’s fightback was kick-started by Greg Nicolson as he fought off a stuffy Mark Riddell to scrape a one-hole victory.
Riddell produced an unbelievable up and down to win the 17th with a birdie but, after leaving himself with just a gap wedge from 135 yards for his second at the par-5 18th, Nicolson got his nose back in front with a closing birdie.
“I realised that my game was going to be crucial and, though it should have been sooner, I was pleased to get that point on the board,” admitted the former professional. The points then came thick and fast for Mortonhall, led by Alex Main and Duncan Hamilton as they both recorded comfortable victories.
Main described his golf as “really solid” in beating Stephen Marshall 6&5 while Hamilton made three 2s – at the ninth, 11th and 15th – as he defeated Andy Laurence 4&3.
“I also birdied the third and seventh,” reported Hamilton as he savoured one of the best performances of the day.
That made it 3-2 to Mortonhall and victory was then secured as Martin Fitheridge and Steven Scott both won on the last.
After a “topsy-turvy” front nine, Fitheridge got his nose in front against Brent Munro at the 14th while Scott “scrambled a bit” on the back nine before just getting the better of Jake Edgecombe.
“It was a nice way to finish,” said Scott, winner of the club’s autumn meeting the previous day as, after making a birdie at the last, a cry of “Yessss” greeted his historic title-winning putt from up the fairway.
“It is tremendous for the club to win this event for the first time in our 125th year,” admitted Stark after seeing his own personal 14-year bid to land the prize finally prove successful.
Gourlay is confident that Baberton can get back in the title mix again soon, especially with youngsters like Edgecombein the ranks.
“Jake did exceptional today,” he said. “He birdied the last two holes and you can’t ask for anymore than that, especially from a 17-year-old.”
Results (Mortonall names first): Rob Paterson lost to Dougie Waugh 5&4; Greg Nicolson beat Mark Riddell one hole; Graeme Clark lost to Matt Kaye 2&1; Martin Fitheridge beat Brett Munro one hole; Steven Scott bt Jake Edgecombe one hole; Duncan Hamilton bt Andy Laurence 4&3; Alex Main bt Stephen Marshall 6&5; Ian Dickson halved with Colin Malone; Chris Timms halved with Tom Cannon.