Golf: Liberton youngsters making their mark in Summer League

LIBERTON’S mix of youth and experience got them off to a winning start in this season’s Pollock (Scotrans) Ltd Edinburgh Summer League.

An injection of young talent also helped Duddingston open their campaign with a notable away win, a feat also achieved by Newbattle.

The emergence of some promising youngsters at Liberton has been much-publicised over the past few years and now they are starting to make their mark on the men’s scene as well.

Anthony Blaney, Ross Munro and Scott Finlay were all in the team that entertained Kingsknowe and they returned two valuable wins between them.

Allied to the one-and-a-half points contributed by the experienced Robert Jack and David Kerr, that helped the home team chalk up a 4…-3… win.

It was a perfect start to the season for Liberton team manager Clark Munro, who also played his part by reeling off three birdies on the spin from the 14th as he recovered from two down after 13 to beat Graeme Fraser.

In the same group, Newbattle won 6-2 at Prestonfield while Lothianburn made home advantage count against Craigmillar Park.

Newbattle’s John Hunter started with three birdies but had to settle for a share of the spoils after a brave fightback from Arran McHardy in the top match at Prestonfield.

However, subsequent wins from Stuart Thorburn, Scott Stables, Graham Reid, Craig Stables and Stuart Simpson saw a strong-looking Newbattle team get off to a flying start.

Lothianburn opened with a nice win, too, Paul Logan setting the tone against Craigmillar Park as he thumped Steven Jackson in the top match.

In two tighter affairs, Tommy Whigham and Graham Nisbet also came out on top for the home side, as did Alan Greenshields and Dougie Howieson.

The visitors, incidentally, featured father and son Innes and Fraser Christie, the latter having underlined his potential with a good run in this season’s Scottish Boys at Murcar.

Another youngster who looks to have a bright future is Stuart McLean, the son of Duddingston professional Alistair.

He was given his chance along with another youngster, Conor Scott, for Duddy’s opening encounter at Merchants, where the visitors recorded a superb 5-3 win. It was the first time Merchants had lost on home turf in more than a year and McLean clinched Duddy’s win as he beat Paul Francis in the bottom match.

Other Duddingston points scorers were Gus Santana, Dereck Williams and Duncan Low, the latter holing a 5-iron for an eagle at the ninth as he beat Mike Leitch.

“It’s the first eagle I’ve ever witnessed at that hole and it also saved me the trouble of trying to play from a plugged lie in the rough!” said Leitch.

On McLean and Scott, Duddingston’s Chris Reid noted: “They were both making their Summer League debuts and are among a bunch of good young golfers being developed at the club.”

Elsewhere in Section C, Royal Burgess got their bid for a fifth straight title triumph with a hard-earned home win over Musselburgh. The first four matches to finish were all big victories for the home side from Stephen Buckley, John Fraser, John Yuille and Brian Tait.

But the home side didn’t get things entirely their own way and Royal Burgess team manager Richard Hughes heaped praise on their opponents.

“We are happy to put two points on the board as I think Musselburgh will do well this season. They have a couple of good youngsters in Benn McLeod and Callum Burgess, who can only get better with experience.”

As was the case with both encounters between the two teams last season, Bruntsfield Links and West Linton fought out an exciting battle that came down to the last putt in the last match. Mark Kernaghan emerged as the home hero after he got up and down from a greenside bunker to half the last and win the decisive match against Sean Walter.

In the same group, Murrayfield and Swanston New shared the spoils in a match that saw the bottom two matches both come down the last and both ended in halves.

Baberton, meanwhile, started their campaign with a home win over Glencorse in Section A, where newcomers Royal Musselburgh picked up their first points at the expense of Mortonhall.

At Royal Musselburgh, where seven of the eight games went as far the remaining three holes, the home team secured revenge for the defeat they’d suffered the previous week at Mortonhall.

“Having played John Hall’s team both home and away and experienced both sides (in defeat and as victors), I believe they are a welcome addition to the Edinburgh League,” said Mortonhall’s Graeme Stark.