Gullane survive stern Tantallon test to claim sixth successive Winter League

It went down to the final hole, but Gullane are the East Lothian Winter League champions for the sixth season running.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 2:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 2:17 pm

In the closest-ever finish in the event, they made it six of the best despite losing 3-2 at Tantallon in the title-decider.

Tantallon fell agonisingly short in their courageous bid to claim the crown for the first time in 20 years, having needed a 3.5-1.5 win.

As a keenly-fought tussle reached the business end, Tantallon came to the 17th tee two up in each of the first three ties. Gullane, meanwhile, were in control in the anchor match, with the fourth tie all square.

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Then 14-year-old Valdemar Hundeboll holed from ten feet on the 16th, apparently for a half, but when John Clelland missed from four feet, Tantallon went one up and seemed to be in control.

They secured ties one and three on the 17th green, and Gullane took tie five on the 16th. But Gullane closed the gap to one hole in tie two after John Stewart found the bunker with his approach to 17. In tie four, the 17th was halved in par, leaving Gullane needing to win the final hole in both remaining matches to claim the title.

That’s exactly what they did, making a birdie each time which their hosts were unable to match. “I have great admiration for our squad whose desire to win has never diminished and grows stronger year after year,” said delighted winning team captain Clelland. “At Gullane, we are in the fortunate position that everyone wants to play for the club as often as they can.

“It was a fitting finale to this year’s tight campaign with so many twists and turns on the back nine. The support Tantallon had was great to see and what an experience we all had coming down the final few holes, especially considering the weather.”

Tantallon team captain Fraser Symon said: “Whilst we are obviously disappointed to have fallen so tantalisingly short we are focussing on the positives of a great season. To have run Gullane so close has been a great team effort.

“We walk away a little more experienced and determined to build on this. It’s been great fun and we will do all we can do to go one better next year and in other events coming up through the summer.”

Match details (Tantallon names first): Chris Low and Joe Lockie bt Thomas Simmonds and Mark Dickson 2&1; Nick Peoples and John B Stewart halved with Scott Walker and Stuart Roberts; Fraser Symon and Fraser Skene bt Robert Jack and Simon Mackenzie 2&1; Scott Young and Valdemar Hundeboll halved with John Clelland and Ross Thomson; Liam Brown and Gareth Pugh lost to Alan Smith and Murray Saunders 3&2.