Scott Knowles aims to speed Scotland to unlikely glory

Scott Knowles: hoping for victory. Picture: Jayne Wright

Scott Knowles: hoping for victory. Picture: Jayne Wright

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SCOTLAND skipper Scott Knowles was hoping his side could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Ayrshire this morning.

The hosts were due to resume their match against Ireland in the Home Internationals at 7am after weather halted play at tea time on the opening day.

Scotland, bidding to win the four-cornered event for the first time since 2006, were in the driving seat after winning the morning foursomes 3.5-1.5.

They also got off to a flying start in the singles as Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson and Kirkhill’s Paul Shields chalked up wins in the top two matches.

But the tide had turned Ireland’s way by the time the klaxon sounded at 6pm and, after an hour’s delay, the decision was taken to abandon play for the day.

At the resumption, Scotland’s lead was down to just one point and, significantly, the Irish were up in four of the five matches still to be finished.

It meant the hosts needed to come out with all guns blazing this morning to have any chance of avoiding a disastrous opening-session defeat.

“It was all over the place out there,” said Knowles of an afternoon session that had intially started promisingly for his side.

“There weren’t many holes being halved due to a combination of good play or balls ending up in the heather all the time. But we are not down and out yet.”

Ayrshire ace Jack McDonald was the only Scottish player not facing a deficit when the players returned this morning.

He was all square against Harry Diamond playing the last but McDonald had a birdie putt while his opponent was struggling to save par.

Elsewhere, though, it wasn’t looking too clever from a Scottish perspective after Ireland had turned many of the ties around.

Fraser McKenna, for instance, was three down with three to play, while Scott Borrowman, Brian Soutar and James White were all one down.

But Knowles certainly hadn’t thrown in the towel, hoping the momentum Ireland had built up would be affected by play being stopped last night.

“Scott had just lost two holes but Brian had got it back from three down to one down so he’s pumped up and ready to go,” said the Kingsknowe man.

The two Lothians players in his team for the four-cornered event failed to taste success yesterday. Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest, the new Scottish champion, lost on the last green with Shields in the morning foursomes before going down 2 
and 1 to Gary Hurley in the 
singles.

Baberton’s Paul Ferrier, who has been struggling with a neck strain, sat out the foursomes before losing by the same margin in the singles.

His conqueror, ironically enough, was Edinburgh-born Reeve Whitson, the son of former Turnhouse pro Kevin.

Underlining the regard he’s held within Irish golfing circles, Whitson had earlier joined forces with Amateur champion Alan Dunbar as they beat Shields and Forrest.

And he’s not the only person in the Irish camp this week with a Capital connection. Neil Manchip, who also cut his golfing teeth at Turnhouse, is continuing to do a fine job as the GUI’s national coach.

In addition to the weather, slow play was another talking point on the opening day, when Knowles said he’d welcome any action that might be taken to speed things up for the remainder of the event.

“Slow play is an issue all the time and is a bugbear of both mine and (Scottish national coach) Ian Rae,” he said.

“It needs to be sorted out, to be honest, as there is no reason for it. It’s okay players having a pre-shot routine but some of them take too long.”

In yesterday’s other match, England beat Wales 9.5-5.5 to get off to a flying start in their bid to land a fourth title 
triumph on the trot.