George Murray among four ex-pros flying Fife flag in Scottish Area final at Paisley
George Murray, who competed on the DP World Tour for two seasons and finished second in the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, is flying the Fife flag in the Scottish Golf event along with some other well-known faces.
Chris Kelly, the Scottish PGA winner in 2003, 2015 and 2017, is also in the seven-man team after joining Murray in being reinstated to the amateur ranks, as are Jimmy Mullen and James White.
Mullen played on a winning Walker Cup team along with current DP World Tour players Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson at Royal Lytham in 2015 before having a short spell in the paid ranks, where former Scottish Golf Order of Merit winner White also played for a bit before returning to the amateur game.
In an event also featuring Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Lothians, the quartet are joining forces on Saturday and Sunday with East of Scotland Open champion Andrew Davidson, Fraser Carr and Marcus Rickard as Fife bid to land a fourth title triumph in the event since 2011.
“A really good blend of youth and experience and stiff competition to be picked for the team has got us to the finals,” said Fife president Jim McArthur. “Derek Paton, in his role as team manager, has built a 20-strong squad with a strong team spirit and a professional attitude to playing for Fife which has stood us in good stead so far.”
After dominating the event under its old format, Lothians landed the prize for the first time in its current guise in Inverness two years ago and are back on the victory trail after recording big wins over Renfrewshire, Borders and Stirlingshire in the group phase.
“The guys work their socks off and they make my life difficult when picking the team, which is a great problem to have,” said Lothians president Neil Anderson. “We have an abundance of great players within the Lothians, a few of whom, including Angus Carrick, Thomas Simmonds, James Morgan and Cameron Adam, are unable to make the finals due to other commitments.
“My heart also goes out to Jamie Duguid who, unfortunately, missed out on making the team due to the deadline for submitting the team being the Friday just before his win at Bathgate in the South East District Championship.
“But, even though there are players unavailable, we still have a strong team in Stuart Blair, Craig Davidson, Allyn Dick, Scott McCandless, Benn McLeod,Ross Noon and Connor Wilson. The team captain, Ross Mallon, has had many sleepless nights with team selection but has done a terrific job.”
Ayrshire, bidding to lift the trophy for the first time since 2015, are being represented by Scott Brown, Craig Hamilton, Steven McEwan, Blair Morton, Barry O’Rourke, John Shanks and Steven Stamper. McEwan is a former Scottish internationalist while Shanks has two wins in this event under his belt.
“We are going to Paisley with an experienced strong squad and there is no reason why we can’t return triumphant on Sunday, it won’t be for the want of trying should we be unsuccessful,” said Ayrshire vice president and team manager Andrew Milligan.
“The lads have a great team spirit. They are all determined to do their county, their home clubs and themselves proud by bringing home the trophy for the first time since 2015 at Blairgowrie. It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of this group of players.”
Gordon Yates, a member of Lanarkshire’s last winning team in 2016, is on duty for them again along with Scottish international Lewis Irvine, Edward Trophy winner Andy Steven, former pro Mark O’Donnell, Scott MacPherson, Garry McLetchie, and Kieran McVicar.
“We have only used nine players in the campaign and we have a good mix of boys, most of whom have played in the event before,” said Lanarkshire president Kenny McLean. “The boys are all looking forward to it and we have heard that the course at Paisley is in magnificent condition.”
It’s knock-out match-play in Saturday’s semi-finals, with foursomes in the morning and singles in the afternoon, with the same format for Sunday’s title decider.
“The four finalists are arguably the strongest Areas, with Paisley being a popular venue with the players, so it is all lined up to be a top festival of amateur golf and whoever wins deserves to be celebrated at the pinnacle of club golf in Scotland,” observed Fife official David Roy.
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