Wednesday, July 12, 2006




It's been a few years since Neil Duncan (Bon Accord) (1985) and Christopher Campbell (Grantown on Spey) (1995) won the Douglas Gillespie Scottish Under-16 boys' open stroke-play golf championship.

But Ryan Elder (Nairn Dunbar), Texas-based Buchan loon Tommy Mitchell and Scott Fraser (Northern) are all in with a chance as the stage is set at Deeside Golf Club on Thursday for one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the tournament.

Only three shots cover the leading eight players with one round to go over the deceptively difficult par-70 Bieldside course.

Overnight leader Daniel Fitzpatrick, the 6ft 4in Greenock Golf Club junior champion, has been joined in the pole position on five-over-par 145 by Sam McLaren from the River Tay island golf club, King James VI, in Perth.

Only one shot behind is 14-year-old Mikhail Ishaq from Sheffield and the biggest threat to take the trophy over the Border for the second year in a row.

Within striking range are Ryan Elder (Nairn Dunbar), Euan McLaren (Dumfries & Galloway) and Colin Baird (Bothwell Castle) on 147, while Tommy Mitchell, a former Longside Golf Club member who moved to Houston with his parents, and Scott Fraser, one of the top Aberdeen prospects, are sharing seventh place on 148.

“I was just a wee bit nervous being the overnight leader and I bogeyed four holes in a row from the fourth and then dropped more shots at the 10th and 11th,” said 16-year-old, four-handicap Fitzpatrick.

“But I managed to birdie the 13th and 14th and I’m looking forward to the final round.”

Daniel has made up his 145 tally with rounds of 70 and 75.

Sam McLaren, who started with a 71, was heading for a clear lead after 36 holes when he got an eagle 3 at the long 13th but ran up a double-bogey 6 at the last hole for a 74 to keep the door open for the chasing pack.

Ryan Elder double-bogeyed the short fifth - as so many competitors have done - but dropped only two others, at the ninth and 12th, and covered the last six holes in one under par, thanks to a birdie at the 13th in an inward 34 for a 73, one better than on Tuesday.

Scott Fraser was a tiny bit disgruntled to finish with a 75. He double-bogeyed two short holes - the fifth and 12th and could not quite cancel them out with birdies at the sixth and 13th in halves of 38 and 37.

Three players broke 70, compared with none in the first round, and Tommy Mitchell had the best of the bunch, a three-under-par 67, which was a 14-shot improvement on his first round. Tommy birdied the third, fourth, 105th, 13th, 14th and 17th in halves of 36 and 31, covering the last six holes in three-under-par. If he gets the wind in his sails again during the final round, anything can happen.

A total of 42 players with 36-hole tallies of 152 or better qualified for today's final round. Spectators will be welcomed by the organising Scottish Golf Union. You never know, you might spot the next Colin Montgomerie or Paul Lawrie.