DCSIMG

Paul Shields leads the way against Auld Enemy as Scots set up title chance

Paul Shields put the first point on the board as as he beat Callum Shinkwin. Picture: Kenny Smith

Paul Shields put the first point on the board as as he beat Callum Shinkwin. Picture: Kenny Smith

  • by MARTIN DEMPSTER
 

THE sight of the Auld Enemy waiting on the first tee was just what the doctor ordered. “Against England it is always easy to get motivated,” admitted Paul Shields after helping Scotland get their title challenge back on course in stunning fashion in the Home Internationals in Ayrshire.

THE sight of the Auld Enemy waiting on the first tee was just what the doctor ordered. “Against England it is always easy to get motivated,” admitted Paul Shields after helping Scotland get their title challenge back on course in stunning fashion in the Home Internationals in Ayrshire.

Starting the day with an 8-7 defeat to Ireland – that match had been abandoned with five games left on the course due to heavy rain on Wednesday night – had left the hosts with no room whatsoever for further slip-ups in their quest for a first title triumph in the four-

cornered event since 2006.

Thanks to some late heroics from Paul Ferrier and Fraser McKenna – they came from one down with three to play to win on the last green – Scott Knowles’ side duly emerged with a 3-2 lead from the morning foursomes and, unlike the match against the Irish, the boys in blue didn’t let that position slip in the singles.

In fact, a sensational performance from the Scots in the afternoon earned them an overall 10-5-4.5 victory – one of their biggest over England in the event’s 80-year history.

It ended a run of three defeats at the hands of the Auld Enemy and has meant the battling Scots are still in with a chance of claiming the Raymond Trophy tonight.

Ireland, with two wins out of two after beating Wales, are in the driving seat heading into the final day and the omens are good for Padraig Hogan’s men. Ireland’s last win in the event – four years ago – also came in the home of golf, at Muirfield.

However, if they slip up against England, a big win over Wales, who have lost both their matches so far, could see Scotland top the pile for the first time since the feat was achieved by a side including the likes

of Richie Ramsay and Lloyd

Saltman.

“The boys were brilliant, every one of them,” beamed Knowles, who has watched England lift the title in his three previous bites at this particular cherry. “Losing 8-7 to Ireland instead of 9-6, as it could have been, was important as we got points on the board to still be involved heading into the second set of matches.

“We now need England to do us a favour, and them beating Ireland by 9-6 or more would be great, but, first and foremost, we need to focus on doing our job on the last day, which is trying to beat Wales.”

On a glorious sunny afternoon on the Ayrshire coast, Graeme Robertson, Jack McDonald and Shields laid the foundations for a memorable Scottish success by all coming from behind to win the top three singles jousts.

Shields put the first point on the board as he beat Moor Park’s Callum Shinkwin, with a run of four birdies in five holes from the sixth – he holed a 30-footer there – turning the tide for the Kirkhill player.

Buoyed by beating Alan Dunbar, the Amateur champion, the previous day, Robertson claimed another notable scalp as he pipped Neil Raymond, winner of the Brabazon Trophy for the last two years, though the Glenbervie player heaved a massive sigh of relief after securing a halve in 5s at the last to come out on top.

“I always manage to make it difficult for myself,” said Robertson after an eventful climax that saw him push his 4-iron second into the heavy rough, send his next one scuttling over the side of the green before holing from 8ft after Raymond had three-putted from the front edge.

Having earlier joined forces with fellow Stirling University student McDonald to win their foursomes for the second day running, Robertson, who has won four matches out of four so far, admitted he is feeding off the confidence he gained from helping Europe beat the United States in the Palmer Cup at Royal County Down in June.

“I gained so much experience in that, beating Derek Ernst, who is sitting well up in the world rankings, in the singles. So I’m not afraid of taking on bigger players,” said this year’s Craigmillar Park Open winner.

Neither is McDonald, as the 19-year-old from Kilmarnock (Barassie) showed as he recovered from being three down after six to also win on the home green against Garrick Porteous, one of three survivors from the winning English side 12 months ago.

“I thought back to Troon and reminded myself that I’d come from being down early on to win matches their,” said McDonald, referring to him reaching the semi-finals of the Amateur Championship a few miles down the coast earlier in the year.

Ferrier, another player who has come on leaps and bounds since he also reached the last four in that event, won his singles as well, as did Ross Bell, James White and Brian Soutar. More of the same today and

the Scots might just claim the prize.

 

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