Golf: Glencorse hoping to deny Burgess three in a row
In the semi-finals at Liberton, Royal Burgess took full advantage of their opponents being more understrength than them in beating Kingsknowe 6-2 while Glencorse maintained their excellent form with a 5-3 win over Duddingston.
Royal Burgess were missing James Ross, club champion Fraser McCluskey and Brian Tait, the newly-crowned Lothians Champion of Champions, while Kingsknowe were without Allyn Dick and Scott Knowles due to international duty as well as Stevie McCulloch.
On the face of things, that would appear to have evened things out but, in recent years, the Barnton club have built up a strength in depth for this event that is second to none.
In a match that was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests, Royal Burgess won the top four games but, in fairness to their opponents, had to go to the 17th or beyond in each of them before eventually coming out on top.
At the top of the order, Grant Hill was three up after 12 before seeing Graeme Fraser birdie the 13th and then win the 14th with a par. Hill went two up again at the 16th, lost the 17th to a birdie before securing a hard-earned point with a half in pars at the last.
Behind, Sandy Gray blasted out of the traps and was four up after four against Mark Cairnie. The Kingsknowe player won the 12th, 14th and 16th before a hooked tee shot at the last evenutally saw him lose by two holes.
Mike Foley - recovering from an appendix operation - birdied the first against Stephen Buckley, who replied with a birdie of his own at the third and eventually went on to win an exciting encounter by 2 and 1.
With his son Charlie acting as caddie, John Yuille looked to be in trouble when he arrived at the sixth tee two down to Greg Richards but an unbelievable bunker save from the Burgess man there proved the turning point in that game.
Yuille won the eighth and ninth to square the game, then went won one up at the 12th before doubling his advantage with a birdie at the 15th. After a half at the 16th, Yuille clinched his point with a great birdie-2 at the 17th to put the Burgess 4-0 up.
Andy Rowe put Kingsknowe's first point on the board when, after winning the 17th with a birdie, John Fraser's 25-footer for another birdie at the last sat on the edge of the hole.
However, hopes of a Kingsknowe fightback were soon dashed as Ian Taylor secured the fifth point Royal Burgess needed to take them over the finishing line before Doug Ross added another win for good measure.
Despite tearing skin off his forearm as he fell over the roots of a tree after playing a miraculous recovery following a hooked tee shot at the first, Taylor beat Mike Robson 3 and 2 to clinch his side's place back in the final.
Ross, meanwhile, bagged crucial birdies at the 15th and 16th in beating Gary Malone by 2 and 1.
Donny Munro, who covered the first six holes in three under and was five up as a result, crushed Grant Pollok 6 and 5, while Scott McDonald and Dougie Morton shook hands on a half after 14 with the overall match already decided.
"I think we are fortunate to have so many talented players but this is still a very good Kingsknowe side and we performed at the top of our game to win," said Royal Burgess team manager Richard Hughes.
"We are now one game away from being the only team ever to go through the Summer League undefeated, by virtue of our qualifying section record of ten wins from ten matches. But we have the very considerable obstacle of Glencorse to overcome in the final to achieve this. They have some very fine players and we know we will have to be at our best to prevail."
Based on the efforts of their players to face Duddingston, Glencorse are certainly determined to get their hands on the title this year.
Two members of their team made a dash from St Andrews, where they had been playing in the Eden Trophy, Sean McGarvey withdrew from the Leven Gold Medal while the evergreen Andrew Wight pulled out of the Archerfield club championship
In another tight affair, the opening match set the tone for the entire game. Keith Young was in command for much of the game against David Miller and was three up after eight.
Miller gradually cut the deficit to one hole before holing a ten-footer for birdie at the 16th, where Young had put his approach shot stone dead on his way to securing a one-hole win.
McGarvey also did his bit with a solid performance in beating David Garland 4 and 3, before Mike Power, as steady as ever, put Duddingston's first point on the board with a 3 and 2 win over Ian Shanks. Duncan Low proved too good for Juston Lamb in winning 5 and 4 to balance the tie at 2-2 and, at this point, nobody could call the outcome.
Crucially, Derek Thomson won the 16th and 17th to secure a vital point for Glencorse at the expense of Derrick Williams, while Gus Santana, five up at one point, was relieved to see Neil Shillinglaw's birdie putt at the 18th slip agonisingly by to restore parity once more at 3-3.
At this point, Duddingston seemed to have the edge. Duncan Ireland, who had been four down after eight, won the 16th to square his match and carry some momentum into the final holes against Iain Melville, while Gary Thomson got his nose in front against Wight by winning the 15th.
However, the pendulum quickly swung Glencorse's way - Wight winning the 16th just as Melville won the 17th in his match. Melville then holed a four-footer at the last to secure a fourth point for Glencorse before Thomson and Wight shared the honours with pars at the 18th.
And, at almost exactly the same time, Alastair Shanks was delivering the winning putt for Glencorse at the 17th courtesy of a fine tee shot to three feet in the anchor match against John Shepherd.
"A fine victory for us in a match which was tight all the way," said a delighted Shanks. "Duddingston made us fight for every hole."