LAST Saturday’s Shetland Open competition saw Tom Simpson win the scratch trophy with John Nicolson taking the honours in the handicap section.
Seventy players had turned up at Dale to take part in the biggest golfing event of the year, sponsored by J. W. Gray & Co. and The Famous Grouse.
The higher handicappers were off just before 7am with weather forecasts indicating that there was a chance of the usual downpour. However, the only problem for the early starters appeared to be the midges.
A warm morning with only a light breeze made for good scoring conditions with the course once again in excellent condition with the greens being slightly faster than players were used to after being cut on Friday and again on Saturday morning.
Leading the way after round one was last year’s winner Robbie Jamieson and Tom Simpson who both posted excellent rounds of 71 to share the lead. Two shots back on 73 was this year’s form player Alan Harcus, young Jordan Leask and Dougie MacDonald. A further shot back on 74 were Michael Boxwell and Ernie Smith with five players on 76.
Jamieson’s 71 (net 65) also meant he was joint leader in the handicap with Stanley Sinclair, who has also been playing some good golf this season. Sinclair posted a first round score of 77 (net 65). One shot back were scratch contenders MacDonald and Simpson whose net scores were both 66 along with three other players, John Nicolson (89), Paul Foster (79) and Dougie Shearer (76). One further back was Glenn Gilfillan, at last showing some of his potential with an 86 (net 67).
Thankfully the weather held off until late afternoon when the temperature dropped and the rain came. Most players managed to finish their rounds without getting soaked but the last half dozen groups certainly got the worst of the day’s weather.
The lowest scores in the afternoon came from Alan Harcus and Dougie MacDonald who both came in with rounds of 74 meaning they both also had overall scores of 147.
First round joint leader Robbie Jamieson didn’t fare so well in round two as his 78 gave him a cumulative score of 149 while Jordan Leask’s second round of 75 gave him an overall score of 148.
It had looked for a while that a play-off between Harcus and MacDonald may be required to settle the competition and with a few players still out on course the worsening weather meant that good scores would be hard to come by.
Joint first round leader Tom Simpson needed to post a score no worse than 75 to stay ahead and that is exactly what he did. His 75 gave him a total gross of 146 which was enough to become hampion. It was a well-deserved victory, particularly as he had to play in the worst of the weather in the second round.
In the handicap section John Nicolson was in the clubhouse with a second round score of 88 (net 65), giving him an overall net 131, which was going to take some beating. There were still a few players who could overtake him but with the weather deteriorating this was getting less and less likely.
Whalsay’s Robbie Irvine had a good second round adding a 79 (net 66) to his morning round of net 68, giving a total of 134.
A seven on the 14th hole spoiled Dougie Shearer’s chance of returning a low enough score but still posted a decent 77 (net 67) to give a total of 133. This meant that the Shetland Open handicap would be Nicolson’s first ever golfing victory and he managed to take three shots off his handicap in the process.
Nicolson therefore took first place and the open trophy and decanter with a net 131 while Dougie MacDonald’s net 133 took second place by virtue of a better inward nine holes. Dougie Shearer was third, also on net 133 with Robbie Irvine fourth on 134.
Stanley Sinclair (135) took fifth and Ian Pottinger (136) sixth. Geo Sim was seventh and Paul Foster eighth, both on 137. James Ramsay was ninth on 139, quite an achievement given that he had a 15 on his card.
Simpson gross score of 146 ensured that he lifted the scratch trophy, just one shot ahead of Harcus (147). MacDonald was also on 147 but took second place in the handicap so Jordan Leask took the prize for third place with a score of 148. Robbie Jamieson was fourth on 149 while Dave Howells was fifth on 154 with Ernie Smith in sixth place, also with a score of 154.
Other prizes went to Ronnie Birnie who was nearest the pin in two on the sixth, Alan Harcus who had the longest drive on the 11th, Maurice Clark who was nearest the pin on the 14th and Tom Simpson who was nearest the pin on the second.
The best scratch round outwith the prizes went to Michael Boxwell for his first round 74 and the best handicap round outwith the prizes went to Stuart Jarvie for his second round net 66.
Club captain Stuart Fox congratulated all the players who, unlike himself, had managed to complete 36 holes and welcomed Iain Johnston from J. W. Gray & Co. to present the prizes to all the winners.