Neil takes centre stage to lift JGC Autumn Open title
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The summer season at Thurso Golf Club is drawing to an end but there are still a few important competitions to be played before the end of September.
One such competition is the new Stroke Play Club Championship. This is played over three rounds with the best two counting. There are three categories namely scratch, handicap and seniors.
The second round took place on Saturday and attracted the usual large field of competitors. Ross Sutherland, with a nett 68 in round one, put himself in an excellent overall position by posting 77(10) 67 to take fifth place on the day.
Course record holder Jim Sangster was fourth with an excellent 70 (3) 67, also the lowest gross score of the day.
Despite not birdieing either of the par fives, Sangster reached the turn in one-under-par 34 and had a back nine of 36, giving him his excellent score.
Ronnie Gray mounted the podium once more in the bronze medal position, Gray’s steady play resulting in halves of 39 and 41 for 80 (13) 67.
The runner-up spot was taken by Harvey Cowe with 82 (15) 67, Cowe’s consistent back nine of 40 pipping Gray’s to take the silver.
The winner on this occasion was Jordan Youngson with 76 (9) 67. Youngson, who has been threatening to break through recently, will look to his excellent back nine of 36 as perhaps the start of a late-season run of form. There is no doubt he has the potential to succeed.
Stroke Play Club Championship round two results: 1 Jordan Youngson, 76 (9) 67; 2 Harvey Cowe, 82 (15) 67; 3 Ronnie Gray, 80 (13) 67; 4 Jim Sangster, 70 (3) 67; 5 Ross Sutherland, 77 (10) 67.
After two rounds, and with one remaining round to be played on September 26, Alan Swanson leads the scratch competition on 150. Ross Sutherland is in pole position in the handicap competition on 135, while Lachie Sutherland leads the seniors on 142.
With several players only having played one round, it’s all to play for.
Sunday saw the JGC Autumn Open being played. This was the first open competition at Thurso this season.
As expected, there was a huge demand for places with players from Reay, Wick, Lybster, Orkney, Stromness, South Ronaldsay and Nairn making up a remarkable field of 128 players.
After Saturday’s sunshine the course was engulfed by fog early in the morning and a delayed start looked to be on the cards. With such a large field and the shorter days, this could have been a major problem.
However, the fog lifted to allow the first ball to be struck right on time at 7.20am. Starter Terry Mackay did a great job in ensuring everyone teed off on time without any problems.
As was expected, with such a large field, there were some excellent scores returned and it was good to see a few visiting golfers appearing among the prize winners.
Stuart Steven of Wick returned an excellent 39 points to take eighth place. This score was matched by Thurso’s Warren Gordon in seventh.
The next four players all scored 40 points so had to be split using their back-nine scores. Stephen King was in sixth place with two halves of 23 and 17 points, a welcome return to form.
Michael MacGregor’s 40 points were split 22/18 and included four birdies, three of which came in his superb front nine of 36 strokes.
Harvey Cowe, continuing his excellent recent form, birdied the 14th and 18th on his way to a 21-point back nine to secure fourth place.
Ryan Forbes’s fine back nine of 39 strokes gave him 22 points and took the bronze medal position.
Wick greenkeeper Owen Cormack seemed to enjoy the change of scenery as he shot a superb 41 points to take second place.
Racing to the turn in three-over-par 38 produced 21 points. Cormack then achieved the very rare feat at Thurso of birdieing both the 10th and 11th holes, giving him an unheard of eight points for those two.
The rest of the back nine was, not surprisingly, much less dramatic, except a birdie at the last hole to finish off a fantastic round.
Younger members of the Reid family, Cameron and Kyle, have featured regularly among the prize winners at Thurso this season. However, it was their father Neil’s turn to take centre stage this time.
A very handy 19 points on the front nine, including a birdie two at the third hole, set Reid senior up with a good chance of getting among the prizes.
Reid, who plays off 19, got his back nine off to the best possible start with a birdie at the difficult 10th and followed it with an excellent par four at the equally difficult 11th adding seven more points to his already impressive total.
Nett pars at 12 and 13 kept the momentum going and another birdie two at the short 14th further enhanced his score. A steady run over the last four holes saw a winning total of 43 points recorded, a tremendous round which included two nett holes in one and no fewer than four four-point holes.
There was some excellent scoring in the scratch section too.
Wayne Monkman shot a decent round of 75 for seventh place. He was pipped by fellow Orkney member Liam Smart’s 74. Smart’s round included five birdies, four on the front nine at one, two, four and eight.
Warren Gordon was in fifth place with a three-over-par 72. Euan Munro of Reay was next, also on 72, his back nine of 35 just beating Gordon’s efforts.
In third place was home player David Dunbar with two halves of 36 and 35 producing a fine two-over-par 71.
Alistair Young was second with 70. Young got to the turn in level-par 35, with one birdie and one bogey. A further bogey at the 10th was followed by eight straight pars to take him home in 35.
Young’s round was somewhat hampered over the last few holes by the fog which returned and reduced visibility considerably.
In first place was Alan Swanson with 67. Two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine meant Swanson reached the turn in level par. A shot was dropped at the 12th before three consecutive birdies put him in an excellent position.
Three pars over the home stretch saw him complete his winning score.
JGC Autumn Open results: 1 Neil Reid, 43 points; 2 Owen Cormack, 41; 3 Ryan Forbes, 40; 4 Harvey Cowe, 40; 5 Michael MacGregor, 40; 6 Stephen King, 40; 7 Warren Gordon, 39; 8 Stuart Steven, 39.
Scratch results: 1 Alan Swanson, 67; 2 Alistair Young, 70; 3 David Dunbar, 71; 4 Euan Munro, 72; 5 Warren Gordon, 72; 6 Liam Smart, 74; 7 Wayne Monkman, 75.
Nearest the hole winners – Third hole: Ian Farquhar (Reay). Fifth hole: David Nicolson (Wick).
There were many superb performances and this was due, at least partly, to the excellent condition of the course, the greens in particular. Members and visitors alike were very generous in their praise for the course, maintained by head greenkeeper Frazer Sparling and his team.
Thurso Golf Club thanked long-time sponsor JGC Engineering and Technical Services for its continued support, and Wolfburn Distillery for donating bottles of whisky for the prize winners.
This weekend’s fixtures are the third and final round of the Stroke Play Club Championship on Saturday, followed by the September Medal on Sunday.