Golf: Burgess become Summer League Royalty with fourth title in a row

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ROYAL BURGESS earned a place in the Edinburgh Summer Golf League record books after winning the Pollock (Scotrans) Ltd-sponsored event for the fourth year in a row.

By a twist of fate, they achieved the feat at Duddingston, the club they’d shared the record of three straight successes Mortonhall were the latest side to be flattened by the Burgess streamroller in a title showdown, losing 6.5-2.5 after having no answer to a strong back-nine display from their opponents.

“This side isn’t one of the best in Summer League history – they are simply the best,” declared Burgess team manager Richard Hughes.

It was another terrific team effort from the Barnton club but one performance outshone the others. It came from club champion Sandy Gray as he recovered from being three down with eight to play to beat Greg Nicolson in the top match.

Nicolson, one of the star performances in the league this season, looked set to chalk up another point as he outgunned his 53-year-old opponent. But, in a remarkable turnaround, Gray won five of the last six holes they needed to play in winning by 2 and 1.

After seeing his lead wiped out, Nicholson hit a monstrous drive to around 60 yards of the green at the 386-yard 16th. But, despite finding himself 80 yards behind and needing a 7-iron for his second shot, Gray won that with a birdie, holing from 12 feet and then seeing Nicholson’s effort from around four-feet horseshoe out.

“I’m delighted to have got it back and put a point on the board,” said Gray after clinching his success as a par-5 proved good enough at the next.

Immediately behind, Stephen Buckley had to wait until the eighth before getting his nose in front against Andrew Hogg but eventually went on to win 4 and 2.

Buckley, who had rising Burgess star Varun Varadharajan caddying for him, was one-under for the holes played. It was a good effort from the 27-year-old given that he hasn’t had much sleep over the past couple of weeks following the birth of twin daughters, Chloe and Lucia.

On a Duddingston course that is in fabulous condition at the moment, Martin Fitheridge put the first point on the board for Mortonhall with a 2 and 1 win over Gordon Archibald.

Unfortunately for Mortonhall team manager Graeme Stark, by the time Chris Timms delivered a second win – holing from 15 feet at the last to beat John Fraser – it was all over.

John Yuillie, who lost the first to a birdie, was one up at the turn then “killed off” Martin Hopley with two excellent birdies at the 11th and 12th, a feat matched at the bottom of the order by Fraser McCluskey in his halved match with Mike Cramond.

Brian Tait, last year’s Lothians Champion of Champions winner, also produced a solid display in beating Jamie Kennedy.

The young Mortonhall man was already one down when he “gifted” Tait the 11th then watched his opponent hit an approach to 6in at the next.

Doug Ross, flying the family flag with son James now back at college in the United States, produced a decisive birdie at the 15th in his last-green win over Scott James. And, after being one down with eight to play, Ian Taylor then won four of the next five holes to eventually get the better of Duncan Hamilton.

“It’s about getting over the line and this team certainly knows how to win,” said Burgess No. 2 Derek Reilly.”