RENFREWSHIRE golfers Matthew Clark and Michael Daily missed out on landing Glasgow Golf Club’s prestigious Tennant Cup following a rival’s stroke of genius.
Both men were in the running to land the prize until Liam Johnston, runner-up in the Scottish boys’ match and stroke play events last year, produced a brilliant course record 62 at Killermont to seal victory.
The Dumfries teenager, 19, fired the eight-under par round, beating the course by a one shot, to produce an astonishing comeback and win by a single stroke ahead of Kilmacolm ace Clark.
Runner-up Clark finished the 72-hole event with a final tally of 282, while Erskine’s Daily was a shot back in joint third.
But there was even bigger disappointment for a number of Renfrewshire rivals.
Sam Binning of Ranfurly Castle failed to recover from an opening-round 81 as he finished on 291 after posting his four scorecards.
East Renfrewshire’s Craig Watson was two shots worse off, while Elderslie youngster Alisdair McDougall did well to close with a 67, but was let down by his 11-over par opening score of 82, closing on 295.
Colin Thomson, also of East Renfrewshire, closed on 296 despite a finishing strongly with a 68.
Johnston’s victory, however, is all the more remarkable given his start to the event at Glasgow Golf Club – the ninth oldest golf club in the world.
The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga student was in joint-18th position after opening rounds of 76 and 75 in the rain and wind at Glasgow Gailes.
That was 11 shots behind the halfway leader, Scott Crichton of Aberdour after his 71, 69 start.
But Crichton could do no better than rounds of 73 and 74 in better conditions on the Killermont course, while Johnston stormed through the field with a 68 and the 62 for a 281 total and victory in the SGU Men’s Order of Merit event.
Johnston, who has only been back in Scotland for three weeks ahead of returning to America in August, said: “I struck the ball nicely and hit a lot of greens to give myself chances.
“I then holed a lot of putts, crucial putts at good times. You know when you get the putter going that it’s going to be a low one.
“America has definitely helped me. The facilities are ideal for what you want to do. I play and practice every day and it’s good competition against guys of a similar standard.”
Renfrewshire hot shot Clark carded four rounds of 77, 70, 68 and 67 to be runner-up on 282, while Fraser McKenna (Balmore) also came charging into a share of third with closing rounds of 65 and 67 for 287, the same mark as Daily and Crichton.
McKenna said: “I knew I had to pick up shots today so I just went for it and had a go at everything. My 65 was nice, but you can’t argue with Liam’s course record. To do that is really good going.”
Defending champion James White (Lundin) finished joint seventh, eight shots behind the victor. Johnston is among the field competing in the next Men’s Order of Merit event this weekend, the East of Scotland Championship on White’s home course.
Selected Renfrewshire totals: 282 Matthew Clark (Kilmacolm) 77 70 68 67; 287 Michael Daily (Erskine) 76 74 71 66; Sam Binning (Ranfurly Castle) 81 71 68 71; 293 Craig Watson (East Renfrewshire) 75 74 73 71; Alisdair McDougall (Elderslie) 82 73 73 67; Colin Thomson (East Renfrewshire) 77 77 74 68.