Gavin Hastings replacement shines at the Braids

IRON MAN Charlie Maran helped British Rugby Club of Paris muscle their way to a first-ever Evening News Dispatch Trophy medal after proving a strong deputy for Gavin Hastings at the Braids.

The R&A member answered an SOS call from team captain Colin McClung after Hastings had to end his run in the 113th staging of the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event due to business commitments.

Maran, who plays off two at Luffness New, is more used to running up at the Braids in preparation for iron man events that involve a gruelling combination of a swim, bike ride and a run. But he gelled instantly with Alan Williams in the back pairing as BRC booked their place in tomorrow’s semi-finals with a comfortable win over Edinburgh Thistle B.

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“I’ve only played in this event once before and I think I actually partnered Gavin on that occasion,” said Maran, a member of the R&A’s Rules of Golf committee, who was officiating at the US Open qualifiying at Walton Heath earlier this week.

Recalling Maran’s response when he received his phone call, McClung revealed: “Charlie said he’d ran round the course more than he’d actually played it. But he did well and it made a difference to David Bell and myself knowing that Charlie and Alan Williams were three or four up.”

Watched by former Scotland international Roger Baird on a night when the course stood up remarkably well to a day-long deluge of rain, BRC progressed by 7 and 5, with Bell and McClung winning three holes out of four from the ninth to turn their match around. “It’s great that we have all guaranteed a first Dispatch Trophy medal - but now we want to go on and win it,” said McClung.

Standing between them and a place in the final will be Caermount, the two-time winners but bidding to lift the famous trophy for the first time since 1957. They progressed to the last four with a 5 and 3 win over Edinburgh Western, with the father and son pairing of Ian and Mark Dickson again leading the way.

They were one down after eight to Gerry Curran and David Wilson but eventually finished four up. “Mark and I played a lot of golf together when I was his coach,” said Dickson Snr. “We gel well and the tee shots we’ve each had this week have suited us.”

At the back, Martin Hopley and Gary Henshaw started 3-3 to go two up but were back to all square when Hopley holed a crucial 15-foot putt for a hole-winning birdie at the 14th. “We’ve earned our right to be in the last four,” said Mortonhall member Hopley, while clubmate Dickson Snr said when asked if they could now go all the way: “Absolutely – we have nothing to lose.”

Tomorrow morning’s other semi-final will feature Turnhouse team BBT and Harrison B after they both kept their hopes alive in extra-time.

BBT scraped through against Temple Golfing Society in the longest match in this year’s event, eventually winning at the 22nd after they’d earlier been two down with three to play over the double foursome against their Duddingston opponents.

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The top Temple pairing of David Miller and John Shepherd finished five up on Neil Anderson and Stevie Robb, but that result was reversed at the back. Steven Armstrong and Olly McCrone won the last six holes against Stuart Smith and Keith Millar, completing the fightback when McCrone holed a 12-foot birdie putt at the last.

Temple then squandered a chance to win the first extra hole and were made to pay following wayward tee shots from both Shepherd and Smith three holes later. “It was always going to be a tight match and we’re delighted to have come through it,” said Armstrong, who reckoned he and McCrone were approximately three-under for 18 holes. “We want to win this and are only two victories away from achieving that target but first we have to focus on our semi-final.”

Harrison B also pulled their victory out of the fire, beating Scottish Universities Golf Society at the 19th. The top Harrison B pairing of Stuart More and John Cafferty won the last three holes to finish three down on SUGS scratch duo Niall Glen and Duncan Martin.

Both back pairings then birdied the last – SUGS’ David Greenshields and Harrison club captain Iain Ashley each conjured up superb pitch shots – before a par-4 at the 19th proved good enough for Harrison B in the back match.

More and Cafferty both have gold medals in their collections but for Ashley and Cameron Bruce this is comfortably their best run in the event.

“I am delighted for them and tonight we certainly needed them as John and I were crumbling for a spell out there,” said More.