Golf: McIntosh edges Stuart Cup after a tricky day

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BROOMIEKNOWE’S Jamie McIntosh claimed the Stuart Cup on a card play-off as most of the usual suspects safely progressed to the match-play phase in the Lothians Championship at Duddingston this week.

On a difficult scoring day in the 36-hole qualifying at Kingsknowe and Murrayfield, only two players broke 70 – both efforts coming at the latter.

McIntosh carded a 69 in the morning while Craigielaw’s Martin Stein went one better in the afternoon as he trimmed nine shots off his first round at Kingsknowe.

A 73 there gave McIntosh an aggregate of 142, which was matched by Greenburn’s Gary Corrigan after he followed a first-round 70 at Kingsknowe with an afternoon 72 at Murrayfield.

With Murrayfield having been deemed the ‘home’ course, it meant McIntosh, a big-hitting one handicapper, lifted the Stuart Cup on the strength of his better score there.

The duo finished two shots ahead of three players: Bathgate’s Graham Bell (70, 74), Musselburgh’s Benn McLeod (72, 72) and Pumpherston’s Mark Timmins (73, 71).

McLeod, last year’s Lothians Order of Merit winner, is hoping a good run in the LGA’s flagship event will help restore his confidence.

“I’ve lost that after struggling a bit in both the Craigmillar Park Open and the Battle Trophy at Crail,” he reported.

“But I managed to keep it pretty straight in both rounds and now I’m looking forward to the match-play phase at Duddingston. I think it’s a course that’s maybe similar in some respects to Musselburgh and hopefully it suits my game this week.”

It’s 13 years since Timmins, a Prestonfield member at the time, claimed this title, beating Silverknowes star Keith Reilly at Royal Burgess. Pound for pound, though, there are still few better than Timmins in the amateur game in and around the Capital and he’ll be feeling quietly confident about his chances of keeping the title at Pumpherston after Paul Drake’s success 12 months ago.

Stein, another stuffy competitor, finished in a logjam on 145, the group also including 2011 Lothians champion Alan Anderson (Bruntsfield Links) and Liberton’s Anthony Blaney.

Due to the fact he’s entered for the Scottish Youths’ Championship at Lanark later in the week, Blaney is unavailable for the knock-out phase.

But there was no chance of either Gary Thomson or David Miller missing out on that because they’ll both have home advantage at Duddingston.

And, with the event having been won by a host club player on the last three occasions it was staged there – twice by Stuart Smith and, more recently, by namesake Brian – they’ll be hoping that’s a good omen.

Alongside Miller on 146 were Craigielaw’s Ross Noon, the 2011 Lothians Order of Merit winner, and Steven Armstrong, the 2004 Lothians champion.

Out in 40 in his first round at Murrayfield, Armstrong showed his class by covering his final eight holes there in one-under.

Others to safely make it through included four-time champion Keith Nicholson (Haddington), 2010 winner Allyn Dick from Kingsknowe and Silverknowes pair Reilly and Graeme Robertson.

Frustrated by slow play at his home course in the morning, where he ran up a triple-bogey at the 17th, Dick carded a brace of 75s. Robertson, the 2011 Edward Trophy winner, wasn’t firing on all cylinders either.

Merchants man Brian Erskine maintained his uncanny knack of being among the 32 qualifiers, but Harburn’s Craig Deerness, last year’s beaten finalists, missed out.

He fell just one shot short after running up a double-bogey at Murrayfield’s short second, where he’d holed in one in practice earlier in the week.

Match-play draw

Tonight: 4.45pm K Nicholson (Haddington) v C Wood (North Berwick); 4.52pm A McManus (Longniddry) v G Robertson (Silverknowes); 5.00pm L Morgan (Dunbar) v T Beattie (Carrickvale); 5.07pmJ McIntosh (Broomieknowe) v S MacCandless (Bathgate); 5.15pm N Free (Musselburgh Old) v B Erskine (Merchants); 5.22pm A Sim (Broomieknowe) v S Armstrong (Turnhouse); 5.30pm B McLeod (Musselburgh) v S Blair (Royal Musselburgh); 5.37pm A Dick (Kingsknowe) v G Bell (Bathgate).

Tomorrow: 4.45pm M Stein (Craigielaw) v R M Noon (Craigielaw); 4.52pm G Thomson (Duddingston) v A Macphail (Baberton); 5.00pm K Mackenzie (Bruntsfield Links) v D Miller (Duddingston); 5.07pm G Corrigan (Greenburn) v A Stevenson (Uphall); 5.15pm K Reilly (Silverknowes) v R Boyle (Bathgate); 5.22pm D Hunter (Longniddry) v M Timmins (Pumpherston); 5.30pm J Yuille (Royal Burgess) v J Bell (Swanston New); 5.37pm E Shannly (Linlithgow) v A Anderson (Bruntsfield Links).

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