• Also beat favourites Perth & Kinross and Renfrewshire
• Jack McDonald wins twice in final to add to scalp of Bradley Neil
SCOTTISH AREA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Ayrshire were crowned winners of the GolfKings-sponsored Scottish Area Team Championship after defeating Dumbartonshire to land only their third title in the event’s 38-year history.
Inspired by Jack McDonald, the GB&I Walker Cup squad member, Ayrshire secured a 5.5-3.5 win, despite coming a lowly sixth out of the eight teams who qualified after the opening day’s strokeplay competition.
Having ousted home favourites Perth & Kinross in the last eight, they took the scalp of last year’s winners Renfrewshire in the semi-finals to add to the Area’s title from 1986 and 2008.
McDonald, who plays at Kilmarnock (Barassie), proved the hero, with his two victories in the final adding to notable singles wins on Saturday over Amateur champion Bradley Neil and Matthew Clark, who was third in last year’s SGU Men’s Order of Merit.
The 2012 Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year teamed up with Scott Brown in the morning foursomes, as Ayrshire eased to a 5&4 success over James Wilson and Steven Stewart.
With John Shanks and Stuart Robin also victorious in their foursomes tie, it was 2-1 to Ayrshire at lunch against a Dumbartonshire side who had led the strokeplay qualifying on Friday.
McDonald and in-form teenager Ewen Ferguson, twice a winner on the domestic 72-hole strokeplay circuit in 2015, inevitably came out against each other in the first of the six afternoon singles ties.
Thanks to four birdies, it was Kilmarnock Barassie’s McDonald who took the match 3&2, before Robin’s 2&1 victory over Angus Carrick put Ayrshire 4-1 up.
Chris MacLean and Stewart replied for Dumbartonshire, but a halved match for Brown with George Duncan and a 4&3 win for Shanks over James Wilson in the bottom match secured an overall two-point victory for Ayrshire, ending Dumbartonshire’s hopes of a first win in the event since 1980. Shanks had the honour of clinching the winning point courtesy of his victory.
University of Stirling Applied Maths graduate McDonald, who reached the quarter-finals of the Scottish Amateur at Blairgowrie in 2013, said: “I had played well coming in here after good finishes at Royal Lytham and in Ireland and played well again this week. I’ve just been solid, and the course tends to suit me.
"It’s nice to win as part of a team, especially as I don’t get to see these guys a lot" - Jack McDonald
“I had a fair idea myself and Ewen would end up playing each other and it was a good match. It’s nice to win as part of a team, especially as I don’t get to see these guys a lot. It’s been great to play with them and have a good week.”
On his Walker Cup goal, the 22-year-old added: “I’ll just keep plugging away, try my best and see how it all pans out. Hopefully my game keeps improving during the season. We had a dinner get-together down at Lytham, briefly talking about the event, so we’ll see what happens.”
Main picture: Kenny Smith
Ayrshire win Area Team Championship :: Your thoughts
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