Play-off agony for Tartan Tour trio in Turkey

Scotland’s brave bid to retain the PGAs of Europe International Team title ended in disappointment as they lost to France in a play-off in Turkey.
This is how close Gareth Wright came to winning the title in Turkey with his birdie putt at the 72nd holeThis is how close Gareth Wright came to winning the title in Turkey with his birdie putt at the 72nd hole
This is how close Gareth Wright came to winning the title in Turkey with his birdie putt at the 72nd hole

After a marathon battle between the pair at Gloria Golf Club in Belek, the Auld Alliance finished locked together on 18-under-par, two shots ahead of third-placed Ireland.

West Linton’s Gareth Wright almost secured victory for the Scots with a birdie attempt at the last but then three-putted from 15 feet after being nominated for the play-off against Raphael Eyraud.

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“I was disappointed to finish that way for the guys,” admitted the Edinburgh-based Welshman, who had started a three-week trip by winning the PGA Play-Offs at nearby Antalya Golf Club.

On a thrilling last day, Clydeway Golf’s Graham Fox again led the way for the Tartan Tour trio with a four-under-par 68, which saw him finish as the leading individual in the event for the second year running.

Helped by a birdie at the 17th, where his eagle attempt lipped out, a 70 from Wright was the other counting score as Eastwood’s David Orr signed off with a 76.

It was Orr, as team captain, who picked Wright for the sudden-death shoot-out, explaining: “Had the play-off hole been the short 18th I would have gone for Graham Fox because he’s a very strong iron player. But the long first hole was more suited to Gareth’s game.”

Eyraud’s approach that set up his par after clearing trees and a lake on its 200-plus yard journey to the back of the green was worthy of winning any tournament, but Wright was still left kicking himself after failing to match that.

“After a poor tee shot, I then left myself a perfect gap wedge yardage only to hit a poor shot to about 15 feet and then three-putted,” he groaned after seeing his memorable season - along with Fox, he helped GB&I record a first PGA Cup win on US soil - end on a low note.

Earlier Eyraud had produced the best round of the day, a five-under par 67, and team captain Michael Altmeyer was delighted as the French celebrated a second title triumph in four years.

“He (Eyraud) played very well but I picked him for the play-off because he is the longest of any of us. I’m not long off the tee, neither is Arnaud,” said Altmeyer.

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“He didn’t let us down and it’s great to win the tournament again, especially as none of us have played in it before.”

The Turkish team of siblings Bulent and Savas Karatas and Ramazam Duman completed a wire to wire victory in the International Shield, the competition for teams representing a PGA with 100 members or fewer.

Their total of 21-over left them three clear of Poland in second place.

Elsewhere, another Scottish trio - Colin Montgomerie, Gordon Brand Jnr and Ross Drummond - all produced sub-par efforts in the opening round of the European Senior Tour’s season-ending MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius.

The day there belonged to South African David Frost as the two-time winner surged to the top of the leaderboard courtesy of a sensational finish which included four birdies and an eagle in his last six holes for a seven-under-par 65.

However, Montgomerie is lying joint-third after finishing birdie-birdie for his 68 and both Brand Jnr and Drummond are also sitting handily placed after posting 69 and 70 respectively on the Legend Course at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

“It was nice to finish strongly, especially I was overheating a little,” said Montgomerie of the searing temperatures in the Indian Ocean. “I’m fairly happy with the start, but there’s definitely a little bit of room for improvement over the next two days.”

In Spain, Duddingston’s John Gallagher progressed to the final of the Alps Tour Qualifying School by finishing second in one of three separate stage one events at La Cala.