Monday, February 06, 2012


The University of Stirling’s men’s golf team dominated the final standings at the Yas Links Men’s Open in Abu Dhabi.
Team captain David Booth pipped Scotland boys international Jack McDonald in a play-off to win the overall title, with Scotland international Graeme Robertson third and team sports psychologist Dr John Mathers fourth.
Picture shows Booth (left) and McDonald at the conclusion, in fading light, of their play-off.
The desert links course, designed by Scot Kyle Phillips, proved a home-from-home venue for the Stirling team, whose performances build on their standing as the Scottish, British and European universities champions.
Stirling graduate Richie Ramsay had shown the way, shooting a course record 10 under par 62 to seal the 2012 Emirates Airline Invitational at the same venue last week. And Booth, an MSc Sports Management student, looked equally assured as the 23-year-old from Rotherham shot a final round one under par 71 then edged out Ayrshire-man McDonald at the third extra hole in the play-off to emerge victorious from a field of more than 100.
McDonald, studying a BSc in Applied Mathematics, had led by four shots at the halfway stage of the 36-hole competition, having coped well with the windy conditions to card the only sub-par score heading into the final 18 holes.
But Booth, sitting four shots behind in second place, clawed back the deficit in impressive style and then sank a birdie putt at the third extra hole following an approach shot to within a foot of the hole to clinch the men’s open title. Robertson, from Larbert, missed out on joining the pair in the play-off by one shot, but can console himself with a new amateur course record 69.
Fourteen Stirling University players were amongst the field, with further strong displays from Ollie Roberts (Hong Kong), Zander Culverwell (Edinburgh) and Patrick Spraggs (Westhorpe, Suffolk).
It was a fitting end to an excellent training camp based at Al Ain Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which also included victory in a challenge match against amateurs and professionals from the UAE.
The men’s team are part of the University’s International Sports Scholarship Programme and receive expert coaching from former European Tour professional Dean Robertson, playing their home matches at The Gleneagles Hotel. He said:
“David Booth is in his final semester of his postgraduate degree and has aspirations to become a European Tour player. He saved his best golf for the play-off and performed brilliantly. Jack [McDonald] has quickly emerged as one of the leading players on the University programme and I believe he has a bright future.
“It was an excellent event and a great way to conclude our warm weather training camp, allowing the players to put the training into practice and perform under pressure.
The facilities were tremendous at the Al Ain GC and the floodlit courses meant we were able to training for 12 hours a day as well as complete mental skills workshops and do strength and conditioning sessions.”
Jack McDonald and Graeme Robertson are also supported through a national sports scholarship from Winning Students, having been nominated by the Scottish Golf Union.