KINCARDINE O’Neil, the oldest village in Deeside, has just produced Scotland’s newest golf champion. Step forward Chris Robb, a 23-year-old, who beat Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson on a dreich day in Dundee to win the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship.
In winning the 36-hole title shootout by 4&3, Robb racked up his third tournament triumph in a row, having sparked a month to remember by claiming an eight-shot success in the East of Scotland Open at Lundin then winning the Cameron Corbett Vase at Haggs Castle by four shots.
“I’d like to keep that record going,” admitted the graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after becoming the second Meldrum House member to claim a national title this year following clubmate Barry Brooks’ victory in the Scottish Seniors’ Championship at Blairgowrie. “I’m very pleased how things went for me,” added Robb. “It’s not really sunk in yet and I always think it takes a day for that to happen.”
On a day when the splendid Downfield course was playing much tougher in the wind and rain than the benign conditions earlier in the week, Robb found himself two down early on before edging his nose in front at lunch. As the weather really turned foul in the afternoon, he relinquished that advantage by three-putting the 20th before making a telling thrust by winning three holes in a row – all with birdies – from the 24th.
Robertson, probably the favourite based on experience, got back within touching distance again by taking both the 27th and 28th before two defining moments back-to-back effectively sealed the deal for Robb.
First, 26-year-old Robertson carved his second with a rescue club at the par-5 11th into the thick stuff, which he’d also found in the morning, and lost that when he was building up a head of steam. Then, at the next, Robb chipped in from 15 yards for a birdie-2 to give himself breathing space again.
“In the morning, I should have laid up after Graeme found trouble but didn’t and I was unhappy with myself about that for a few holes,” admitted the new champion. “I learned from that in the afternoon, when I made the right decision by knocking my second down the fairway with a pitching wedge.”
Based on his previous exploits in match-play events, Robb probably didn’t fancy his chances at the start of the week. “But you could say my record is good now,” he said, smiling, before realising that his toughest job of the day was still to come.
“I’m crapping myself about making the winner’s speech as I am so bad at public speaking,” admitted Robb, who is hoping his clubs will continue to do the talking in the European Individual Championship starting at The Duke’s near St Andrews on Wednesday.
Robertson, a graduate of Stirling University, was in no doubt about where his title hopes had disappeared. “The 11th in the afternoon was the turning point as I felt I’d just got back into the match when I hit that bad second shot,” he said, ruefully.