McKechnie aware of Lawrie threat to title hopes

Paul McKechnie
Paul McKechnie
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PAUL McKECHNIE fears Paul Lawrie could scupper his hopes of the winner of the Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship having another Capital connection.

As the weather-hit event headed for a conclusion at the Perthshire resort today, only Lawrie stood between McKechnie and a title play-off with Chris Kelly.

The former Open champion needed to cover the last five holes in his second and final round in three-under-par to join the duo in that showdown in the Tartan Tour’s flagship event.

It followed a decision to reduce the tournament to 36 holes after Sunday’s washout was followed by another half a day being lost yesterday due to persistent rain.

“Paul will be trying like a bear, no doubt about that,” insisted McKechnie, who is based at the Braid Hills Golf Centre. “If I was a betting man, I’d be putting money on him to cover those last few holes in three or four-under as I know how good he is!”

Like Kelly, McKechnie made the most of being on the right side of the draw in terms of getting a break with the weather that has blighted the £40,000 event. As PGA in Scotland officials squeezed as much play as possible into Monday, McKechnie not only completed his first round but also got 15 holes of his second circuit in before darkness descended.

On his return early yesterday morning, the former PGA EuroPro Tour Order of Merit winner birdied the 16th and 18th for a 69 to join Kelly on three-under-par for the event.

“I am under no illusions,” said McKechnie. “We have been granted an opportunity because of the weather but, after being on the wrong end of the draw millions of times, it is nice to be on the right side of it for once.”

The decision to reduce the event to 36 holes – for the first time since 1966 – meant Gareth Wright’s title defence ended prematurely after the West Linton pro had stepped up his challenge with a second-round to sit one behind the clubhouse leaders.

“That was as tough as we’ve ever had it here – it was a war of attrition more than anything out there,” said Wright of the conditions that forced a suspension after he’d come in with his 69 then an abandonment later in the day.

The bad weather also hit the Lothians Championship at Musselburgh, where the first round will now be completed today after play was washed out last night well before the scheduled start.