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Golf season extended at Thurso Golf Club as Stroke Play championship concludes

By Alan Hendry

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The season will continue this weekend at Thurso.
The season will continue this weekend at Thurso.

The last scheduled competitions of the 2020 summer season at Thurso took place last weekend. However, as the course is still in excellent condition, the summer season will be extended into October.

The third and final round of the new Stroke Play club championship was played on Saturday.

Each player’s best two rounds out of three count towards their total score. This competition has attracted a lot of interest and, going into the last round, there were several players in contention for the scratch, handicap and senior titles.

Saturday’s conditions were very challenging as a strong northerly breeze swept across the course all day. Scott Nicol, playing early and in contention for the scratch championship, posted an excellent 71 (4) 67. Nicol reached the turn in one-under-par 34, helped along the way with birdies at the sixth and seventh.

A back nine that included eight fours brought him home in 37 shots as he took the lead in the clubhouse. David Dunbar, also in contention, posted 73 (4) 69 to put him level with Nicol on a 146 two-round total.

Despite an ugly seven at the long 10th, Dunbar rallied, playing the rest of the back nine in one under for a back nine of 36 to go with his opening 37-shot front nine.

Alan Swanson shot a birdie free 73 (1) 72 to join Nicol and Dunbar on 146. With no other player matching this total, countback was needed to separate the three players.

This resulted in Swanson being declared the 2020 Stroke Play champion by the closest of margins.

The handicap section was also keenly contested with leader Ross Sutherland, on nett 135, one ahead of Jack Fidler on 136.

Not surprisingly, due to the tough conditions, most of the contenders didn’t manage to improve on their scores. There was, however, one exception in Ben Durrand.

Durrand’s two-round total was 150 going into the last round but that included an 81 so there was lots of room for improvement – and improve he certainly did.

Out in 45, one under 34 nett, Durrand backed this up with a super back nine of 44 to record the best score of the day of 89 (23) 66. This put Durrand on a two-round total of 135, the same score as the leader Sutherland.

With no other players making an impact on the leader board, countback was once again required to separate the winner and the runner-up. On this occasion, Sutherland took the title by virtue of his third, non-counting round being better than Durrand’s.

The seniors’ championship was led by another member of the Sutherland family, Lachie, going into the final round. Sutherland’s total of 142 gave him a four-shot lead over nearest challenger Ronnie Gray on 146.

Club captain Alan Coghill posted 83 (12) 71 to equal Sutherland’s total of 142 and, with none of the other contenders making an impact and Sutherland teeing off late, the championship was very much in Sutherland’s hands.

Needing to shoot a nett 77 to take the title, Sutherland got off to a poor start and took 46 shots to get to the turn. In danger of letting the title slip away, Sutherland steadied the ship and, despite a hiccup at the 11th, he roared home in 40 shots for 86 (13) 73 to give a two-round total of 137 and a comfortable five-shot victory to become the 2020 senior champion.

Stroke Play club championship round three results: 1 Ben Durrand, 89 (23) 66; 2 Scott Nicol, 71 (4) 67; 3 Neil Reid, 86 (17) 69; 4 David Dunbar, 73 (4) 69.

Stroke Play club champions 2020: Scratch – Alan Swanson. Handicap – Ross Sutherland. Seniors – Lachie Sutherland.

The September Medal was played on Sunday in almost perfect golfing conditions. Saturday’s wind had gone and, with the course in superb condition, low scoring was expected.

Cameron Reid, who has had a great season, was in the prizes again with his 77 (10) 67, two steady halves of 39 and 38 contributing to yet another handicap reduction.

Reid is now only one good round away from achieving every golfer’s goal, a single-figure handicap. It’s a case of when it will happen, not if.

Jocky Begg made a welcome return to form with 78 (11) 67, two halves of 40 and 38 pipping Reid to third place.

Runner-up was Keith Dreaves, also on nett 67. Dreaves’ 81 (14) 67 was made up of 42 and an excellent back nine of 39.

There were no fewer than six nett 67s recorded but one player, Steve Osborne, managed to go one better to take the medal. Osborne got off to a good start with a four at the first but a couple of slip-ups at the second and fifth set him back a bit.

He then got back on the rails with consecutive birdies at the eighth and ninth to reach the turn in 38 shots, three under his handicap. A very steady back nine followed and, despite a couple of blemishes at 15 and 16, Osborne finished with two pars to grab victory by one shot.

September Medal results: 1 Steve Osborne, 79 (13) 66; 2 Keith Dreaves, 81 (14) 67; 3 Jocky Begg, 78 (11) 67; 4 Cameron Reid, 77 (10) 67.

On Thursday, October 1, the fourth and final round of the September Series will be played. The October Medal is on Saturday, followed by a two-man Russian Stableford on Sunday. All competitions will be qualifying for handicaps.

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