Borders player breaks duck as Craig Howie gets hands on title

CRAIG Howie, a 17-year-old from Peebles, is the first player from a Borders club to win the Scottish Boys’ Championship after rounding off a week of comebacks to crush St Andrews’ Ewan Scott by 7 and 6 in the final of the Paul Lawrie Foundation-sponsored event.

One up at the halfway stage in the 36-hole title showdown, Howie lost the opening hole after lunch but quickly sprinted clear of his 16-year-old opponent after winning seven of the next eight holes, covering that stretch in two-under-par.

“I putted really well today and that’s what won it for me,” said the Peebles High pupil as he savoured the biggest success for Borders golf since a clubmate, Ailsa Bain, won the Scottish Girls’ Championship in 2009.

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On another bracing day, the morning segment was watched by a healthy crowd that included three of the area’s favourite golfing sons. Joining Lawrie, who later settled down in front of a TV in the clubhouse to watch his beloved Aberdeen play Hibernian in the Scottish Cup semi-final, was another former Ryder Cup player, Harry Bannerman, and Hugh Stuart, the winner of this event in 1959 before going on to make three Walker Cup appearances.

Continuing his run of sluggish starts in the event, Howie fell behind straight away, losing the first to a conceded birdie after flying the green with his approach and then, just before a hail shower swept across the course, going two down as Scott won the third with another birdie.

The Borderer won the seventh with a par, squared the match with a birdie-3 at the 15th, where he rolled in a curling ten-footer following a majestic approach from the left rough, before getting his nose in front after winning the 18th with a par.

At that point, it seemed as though the joust might go the full distance, but instead Howie’s front-nine burst saw Lawrie handing over the trophy as the pain from his side’s Hampden defeat was still raw.