FORMER Lothians champion Zander Culverwell faced a familiar foe in today’s final of the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship at Blairgowrie.
The 25-year-old, entered out of Dunbar but also a member at Bruntsfield Links, earned his title tilt after ending Grant Forrest’s brave title defence.
Three birdies in the opening four holes helped Culverwell race to a three-up lead and his fellow Lothians player from Craigielaw simply couldn’t claw it back.
“It’s been a really good week,” admitted Culverwell, who’s previous best in the SGU’s flagship event was reaching the last 16 two years ago, after a 4 and 3 victory.
“It’s a course I’ve played before and it’s a course I knew coming into this week that would suit my game.
“My game plan this week was to hit as many fairways and greens as possible and keep the pressure on my opponents.”
Culverwell, who is about to head into his final year at Stirling University, won the Battle Trophy, a 72-hole Scottish Order of Merit event at Crail, in 2011.
But he admitted: “This is definitely my biggest achievement in the game so far.”
Standing between him and a place alongside some of the Scottish golfing greats is Fifer James White.
“I know James well as we had a year together at the University of Stirling, so it should be a great game,” he predicted. Culverwell sent out an SOS on Facebook yesterday morning for a Powakaddy battery charger.
“Mine went up in smoke last night and Becka doesn’t fancy carrying the tour bag tomorrow,” he wrote on the social media site.
The Becka in question is Becka Wilson, his girlfriend and former Scotland internationals player who has been on caddying duties in Perthshire.
“She has been a great help and kept me level-headed,” admitted Culverwell. “I’ve been working hard on not getting too negative, which I’ve done in the past. I was three down to Greig Marchbank yesterday and came back, which gave me a lot of confidence.”
It was a case of beaten but certainly not disgraced for Forrest as the 20-year-old fell just short in his bid to become the first player since Charlie Green 30 years ago to retain the coveted crown.
“I don’t think there is much more I could have done, really,” admitted last year’s winner at Royal Dornoch. “I put up a good defence, I gave it a go.
“I was up against it from the start as he hit a couple really close. It was also really windy, the course changed completely.
“I did a good job controlling my ball flight, but it was one of those days when nothing went my way.
“Zander putted really well from eight feet in. I think he had seven single putts in the front nine.
“If I hit a good shot, it never ended up close, as either the wind died or switched.
“When he hit a good one, it went close for birdie. If he plays like that in the final, he is going to be tough to beat.”
The events keep coming thick and fast for Forrest as the University of San Diego student bids to claim a Walker Cup spot next month.
“I’ve got a rest day on Saturday and then it’s off to the European Individual and then the Home Internationals,” he revealed. “I’m playing well and I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
White, conqueror of Kingsknowe’s Allyn Dick in the fifth round, booked his place in the final with a narrow win over Kirkhill’s Craig Ross.
“I’ve had tight games all the way through, but it just makes it more satisfying,” said the 2011 SGU Order of Merit winner from Lundin.