Golf: Keith Nicholson adds another title

Gullane's Keith Nicholson
Gullane's Keith Nicholson
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SOME familiar faces have been adding to impressive title hauls in club championships around the Lothians.

Winners have included David Miller at Duddingston, Steven Smith at Dalmahoy and Keith Nicholson at Gullane.

The last-named has a CV second to none at grassroots level in the Lothians, having won close to 25 titles at three clubs – Haddington, Dunbar and Gullane. He has also notched four victories in both the Lothians Championship and Lothians Champion of Champions.

Nicholson’s latest club success came at the expense of Ross Thomson on a Gullane No. 1 course where the fairways are fast running and the rough penal – perfect for next week’s Open qualifier there. The defending champion was just one ahead at lunch but moved up a gear in the afternoon to secure a 5 and 3 victory.

Jillian McNicoll won the 
ladies’ title for the first time, beating Jane Herd by 2 and 1 in the final, while Isobel Hastings, mum of Scotland rugby legends Gavin and Scott, claimed the Bronze honours.

In the junior events, Graham Swan birdied the first extra hole against Scott Gillies to win the boys’ title for the second time.

In an equally close showdown for the girls’ crown, Charlotte Munro edged out fellow SLGA development squad member Joanne Free on the last green.

The remaining men’s competitions, the Doctor’s Trophy and the Marston Trophy, were collected by Alan Fraser and Duncan Shearer respectively.

At Duddingston, Miller secured his third title triumph with a 6 and 5 victory over Scott Dickson in their 36-hole final. Miller had also lifted the Archibald Hewitt Cup in 2008 and 2012.

Callum Craig claimed the B honours, beating Bob Dudgeon on the last green over 18 holes, while Karen Bell, Mike Power and Stuart Knox were the respective winners in the ladies, seniors and junior events.Smith, meanwhile, was a worthy winner at Dalmahoy, where he led the qualifying then won all his match-play games by big margins, including a 9 and 8 victory over defending champion Chris Brown in the two-round final.

“I hadn’t played the club champ since I won it in 2010 because of it clashing with other tournaments,” said the 2011 Lothians Championship runner-up. “But this year it fitted in my schedule.”

Smith recently graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology in May.

“The whole experience of being a college athlete instilled a professional approach to my golf,” he added. “Playing against a better standard of opponent year round definitely improved my game and has given me a great grounding to move into the professional ranks.”

Other title winners in and around the Capital have included Alex Robertson, Kevin Cattanach and Varun Varadharajan.

Robertson is the Craigmillar Park champion for the fourth year in a row – a first at the club – after beating Iain Rooney by 9 and 8 in the 36-hole final.

Just two up at lunch, Robertson was a splendid five-under-par for the ten holes played in the afternoon.

Cattanach bridged an 11-year gap at Bruntsfield Links as he took his title tally to six with victory over Lothians champion Alan Anderson in the final.

Cattanach had scraped through at the 23rd against Dave Wallace in the first round but was a deserved 3 and 2 victor over Anderson.

Over the fence, Varadharajan claimed his first success at Royal Burgess, beating John Fraser at the 20th in the semi-final then coming out on top against another experienced campaigner, Fraser McCluskey, in the title tussle.

Three-under in the morning to be seven up, Varadharajan also produced sub-par figures for the second round in winning by 8 and 7.

Another first-time winner was Alan Sim, who beat surprise finalist Kenny Lunn 4 and 3 at Broomieknowe, where Kate McIntosh retained the ladies’ title at the expense of Katherine Anderson.

At the Merchants, Paul Francis recovered from being one down at lunch to claim a maiden victory as he beat David Sibbald by two holes.