Golf: Champs fit for return to The Royal

ROYAL BURGESS return to home soil this week to start a run of four successive matches but the defending champions have already done the donkey work in the group phase of this season's UK Accident Repair Edinburgh Summer League.

They chalked up their sixth straight success and, remarkably, fifth away win in a row with a 7-1 victory at Baberton in their latest outing, leaving team manager Richard Hughes purring over his team's form.

"With four home matches to finish the group matches, there is a real chance we can beat our qualifying record of 18 points last year. However, we will not be taking our foot off the gas," he said.

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In a match that was a lot closer than the score suggests, Stephen Buckley set the visitors on the way, though only after he'd managed to hold off a stirring fightback from Andy Laurence.

Four down with six to play, Laurence responded with birdies at the 13th and 15th and also won the 14th and 16th with pars.

However, Buckley replied with a 9-iron to four feet at the 17th for birdie and than holed from five feet at the last for a half in 4 to seal the point. James Ross, Ian Taylor, Brian Tait, John Yuille, Doug Ross and Grant Pollock also won for Burgess, with Dougie Waugh avoiding the whitewash as he chalked up a comfortable win over Grant Hill.

Still on a high after their triumph in the Evening News Dispatch Trophy, Silverknowes moved a step closer to a place in the knockout stage as they beat visitors Duddingston 5-3.

Helped by a hole-in-one at the eighth with an 8-iron, David Miller earned a half point against Keith Reilly in the top match, with Ian Fraser doing likewise in his game with Stevie Adamson at the opposite end of the order.

In between those, however, wins from Graham Robertson, Tam Caldwell, Paul Ross and Paul Heggie allowed Silverknowes to come out on top, with victories for Neil Donaldson and Gus Santana proving in vain for the visitors.

"Another solid home performance but, with three away games and one home game left, there's still a lot of work to be done to top the section," said Silverknowes spokesman Adamson.

In the same section, Ratho chalked up their first win of the campaign at the expense of Torphin Hill, while Murrayfield also made the most of home advantage to beat Liberton.

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Stuart Imrie, Scott Murray, Scott Walker, John Thomson and David Campbell won for Ratho, with Robert Dobbie and Graham Binnie both delivering half points in a 6-2 success.

"I'm glad to get our first win under our belt and special mention should go to current club champion Stuart Imrie, who has won all matches bar one, which was away last week to Silverknowes," said Ratho team manager Brian Lothian.

Murrayfield, who are enjoying a good campaign, won by the same margin thanks to victories from Derek Millar, Mike Horne, Dave Marshall and Kenny Cumming, with Alan Daley getting a walkover against Stevie Doyle. Colin Dick and Ali Howie also played their part with two good halves.

Glencorse are looking good for a place in the quarter-finals after their latest result, a 5.5-2.5 win at Mortonhall, where Keith Young, who won the last with a birdie against Mark Dickson, Sean McGarvey, Derek Thomson, Neil Shillinglaw and Ian Melville all won for the visitors. "The lads put up a good fight but, just as they did in their home game against us, Glencorse pulled out the winning punches at the end," said Mortonhall's Graeme Stark. "With three away matches left, it will be tough for us now to make the play-offs but we'll give it our best shot."

Dalmahoy won in the same section, though they certainly didn't get it all their own way against visitors Newbattle on a night when five of the eight games went up the last.

Robert Carson, Tom Blennerhasset, Steve Smith, Iain Campbell and Chris Brown delivered the all-important points for the Marriott men. "All in all it was another tough game with a good result for us," reflected team captain Campbell.

After drawing away at Broomieknowe in their previous outing, Merchants had the tables turned on them as Craigmillar Park picked up a point on their visit. Richard Craig, Andrew Helm, Andrew Boddie and Adam George won for the home side, but their efforts were cancelled out by Douglas Melville, Willem Kerr, Jamie Yule and Andy Utterson.

A draw was also the outcome between Prestonfield and Swanston New, the visitors taking the top two points in that one through the efforts of Malcolm Campbell and James Muir.

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But, helped by a two at the second, Neilson Rutherford started the fightback and, in the end, Ivor Highley's win over Swanston stand-in Stewart Sneddon secured the share of the spoils.

A depleted Lothianburn squad had to call on the services of three senior players to make up their numbers for their trip to Musselburgh. Veteran team men Harvey Brown, Stuart Robertson and Alan Greenshields did their best part, but Musselburgh took every game.