Steven Rennie sealed Lanarkshire’s first Scottish Area Team Championship success since 1998 as a thrilling title decider against Lothians came down to the final hole in the ninth and last match at Dalmahoy.
With the score locked at 4-4, the 36-year-old Drumpellier player kept his nerve to hit a fairway-splitting tee shot at the testing closing hole on the East Course and duly held on to his slender lead over opponent Jordyn Rhind to secure victory in the GolfKings-sponsored event.
“That’s a big relief,” admitted Rennie after being mobbed in front of the iconic Dalmahoy clubhouse by his team-mates, some of whom had suffered bitter disappointment when losing to Renfrewshire in the final two years ago.
“I knew from about five holes to play that it was probably going to come down to my match and to achieve a win like this for Lanarkshire with such a great bunch of guys is pretty special.”
Having earlier accounted for Fife and North-East, Lanarkshire edged the morning foursomes 2-1 before moving into a strong position when the top two singles were claimed by Craig Ross and Ed Wood, both winning 2&1 against Calum Hill and Stuart McLaren respectively.
Ross, the South African Amateur champion, was five-under for the holes played and effectively slammed the door shut on 2015 Scottish Open qualifier Hill by hitting a “perfect gap wedge” to around two feet for a birdie at the 16th.
Reinstated amateur Wood then produced an equally impressive blow – a 5-iron from 196 yards that set up a birdie-2 at the 17th as he, too, delivered a crucial early point in the afternoon session. “It was important that we got off to a good start in the singles,” admitted the 34-year-old.
That was certainly evident as Lothians, the record 13-time winners but seeking a first title triumph in the event’s current format, hit back through Eric McIntosh, Lee Morgan and Euan McIntosh before Rennie emerged as the hero by sealing a third victory for Lanarkshire in the event’s 40-year history.
“I’m proud of the boys,” said team manager Willie Sharpe of a side that also included Dominic Dougan, Gordon Yates and 53-year-old Ken Gallacher. “I knew we had a chance coming into the event because we had an excellent mix and Steven Rennie proved down the stretch what we’ve always known – that he is a superb player.”
The triumph completed an Area Team double for Lanarkshire this year after they pipped Lothians by a shot in the boys’ event at Grangemouth in June.