Lothians return to winning ways in Scottish Area Championship
Lothians landed a record 14th Scottish Area Team Championship triumph but first since 2007 after beating Borders in the final at Kings Golf Club in Inverness.
The 3.5-1.5 victory was sealed by Allyn Dick with a 45-foot birdie putt on the final green, capping a sensational year for the Kingsfield player.
Lothians had been the dominant force when the event was spread over the season, but this was a first success since a new format was introduced in 2010.
“It’s great to finally get off that unlucky 13,” said Dick after joining forces with Kenny Glen, Angus Carrick, Connor Wilson, Andrew Benson and Scott McCandless to pull off the victory.
After two rounds of stroke-play in the Highlands, Lothians had qualified as the top seeds, progressing to the knock-out stage along with Borders, North and Perth & Kinross.
Bidding to emulate a win by Perth & Kinross in the women’s equivalent the previous weekend, talented teenagers Connor Graham and Daniel Bullen beat Dick and Glen in their semi-final before a birdie at the second extra hole from Scottish champion Carrick against Rory Franssen edged it for Lothians.
“We came in as favourites and qualified comfortably as the No 1 seeds, but then found ourselves under pressure in the semi-final,” said Dick.
“Myself and Kenny were comfortably beaten by two potential superstars in Connor and Graham, but, fortunately, Angus got us through with a great birdie.”
In another tight match, Borders beat North 3-2 to set up the chance of a first title win in the event, but it wasn’t to be.
Peebles player Darren Howie beat Wilson 3&1 in the top match, but comfortable wins for both Benson and McCandless over Jack McDonald and Simon Fairburn respectively edged Lothians ahead.
The win was then clinched as Dick and Glen made amends for their morning defeat by beating 1996 Scottish Amateur Championship finalist Allan Turnbull and two-time Lothians champion Jamie Morris in the sole foursomes match.
“We changed the order for the afternoon and played great golf,” said Dick. “We were one up playing the last and, with the Borders just six feet away, I managed to hole a 45-footer down a tier with a huge break.”
The triumph capped an incredible season for Dick, who won both the stroke-play and match-play phases in the Lothians Championship before adding the Lothians Order of Merit then the South East District Championship.
“It was the perfect ending to a perfect season,” he admitted. “For me personally, this completes my golfing life.
“The only thing that had been missing was the Scottish Area Team Championship, but now I’ve managed to win everything I could within reason, so this week has been fantastic."
The return to winning ways for Lothians in the event came after three losses in the final since 2013, including back-to-back disappointments in 2016 and 2017.
“From my time playing for Lanarkshire, I had always aspired to win this event, but never quite managed it,” added Dick.
“All credit to the boys playing for us on this occasion - they’ve made an old man happy!”