Stuart Blair lands Lothians title after win over defending champion in final
In a repeat of last year’s final, Blair gained revenge on his Castle Park opponent by winning a tightly-fought tussle at Bruntsfield Links at the 20th hole.
Wilson, the champion in both 2020 and 2022, had started his title defence by winning the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying by a shot after carding two 71s for a level-par total.
Blair only made it through in a card play-off following rounds of 78-72, but, as was the case in the 2022 edition at Royal Burgess, his confidence grew in the match-play phase.
He beat East Alliance champion Ross Noon (Renaissance Club) 3&2 in the opening round before adding a 4&2 victory over Jamie Duguid, flying the Dunbar flag on this occasion but a member of Duddingston’s Dispatch Trophy-winning team in May.
In the other half of the draw, Wilson progressed to the last four with wins over Royal Burgess stalwart John Yuille (two holes) and West Lothian’s Andrew Benson (4&3).
In his semi-final, Blair found himself up against Mortonhall’s Jake Edgecome, who had knocked out both 2016 champion Lee Morgan (Dunbar) and 2019 winner Mark Napier (Turnhouse) in his opening two ties.
After being down early on, Blair birdied the seventh to go one up before quickly following that with another win at the ninth and went on to triumph 2&1.
In another tight affair, Mortonhall’s Harry Carruthers won the second with a birdie against Wilson but, after getting his nose in front with a birdie-2 at the seventh, Wilson went on to win by 4&3.
In the final, Blair took an early lead and still held the upper hand with seven holes to play, but the pendulum suddenly swung Wilson’s way after winning both the 12th and 13th holes.
Blair squared matters again with a 4 at the 15th before holing a long one for a crucial half at the 17th and then clinching victory in style as he rolled in a 20-footer for a birdie at the second extra hole.
Blair, who is only the third Royal Musselburgh player to claim the crown, was elated with his victory, joking that it would be a long time before his putter is replaced.