A FLYING start of 3-3-2 over the opening three holes as just what the doctor ordered for Graham Bolton in the final of Bute Golf Club’s championship battle on Sunday.
The manager at Rothesay Health Centre went on to win his second Kingarth title on Sunday when he defeated Arthur Hunter by 2 and 1 over 18 holes at a course where conditions were made much more difficult by a brisk north-easterly wind.
That early birdie blitz led his opponent, standing on the fourth tee, to ruefully remark: “There’s not many people will start 3-4-3 here and find themselves two down!”
Hunter, who was one under par, could be forgiven for feeling shell-shocked. He had just watched Bolton sink a 40-foot putt for a birdie at the first before he matched it with his own effort from less than half that distance; Hunter then had to concede a two-foot putt for birdie at the second; and finally, at the third, scratch-player Bolton rolled in an 18-footer to complete his opening sub-par salvo.
While lesser players might have buckled under this onslaught, doughty match-play fighter Hunter battled back by winning the fourth and sixth to level the score.
In an exciting final, with fortunes swinging one way then the other, the respite was to be short-lived as Bolton edged ahead again with par at the seventh.
Birdies followed at the next two holes: first Hunter at the eighth then Bolton at the ninth to leave him one up at the turn.
It had been an eventful outward half with a best-ball score of 29; Bolton was out in 32 with his opponent just one behind.
A third birdie of the day for six-handicapper Hunter at the tenth put him back on level terms -- but not for long as his opponent again beat par at the eleventh.
A final birdie for Bolton at the 14th gave the Argyll and Bute stroke-play champion a two-hole margin, which he carried to the 17th green where Hunter conceded the match.
The victory maintains Bolton’s one hundred per cent record of wins in the match-play competition, which he has entered only once before, in the year 2000.
He is, of course, a serial championship winner at Rothesay Golf Club, where his title successes stretch into double figures.
Hunter, who won the Canada Hill club’s title in 1978, has yet to win the Gavin North Trophy at Kingarth. On Sunday’s showing, however, he is a champion in waiting.
The road to the final was as follows.
Quarter-finals - G. Bolton beat J. McKirdy 5 and 4; D. Speirs beat D. Standaloft 1 up; G. Pettigrew beat G. McArthur 2 up; A. Hunter beat R. McKirdy 4 and 3.
Semi-finals - Bolton beat Speirs 5 and 4; Hunter beat Pettigrew 2 and 1.
‘Welsh Wizard’ Leighton Thomas produced the magic yet again to add to his trophy haul over the past two seasons when he beat John Kernaghan 4 and 3 in the final of the ‘Wee Championship’ for the Cuthbertson Cup.
His success followed a one hole victory over Stuart Wilson in the semi-finals, while Kernaghan enjoyed a 3 and 2 win over Malcolm Calder.
* The tricky Kingarth course was a clear winner in the June Medal last Saturday when no-one in the field of over 20 players managed to equal the standard scratch score of 64.
Harry Lloyd (10) led the first class on 65 thanks to a better inward half after his score was matched by Duncan Speirs (6). Other leading scorers were Jim McKirdy (7) and Cammy Middleton (11), both on 68.
Graeme Connor (13) took top place in second class -- again on a better back nine -- with 65. John Bunyan (22) was also on 65 with Stuart Wilson (18) on 67 and Andy Docherty (22) on 68.
* Kingarth golfers travel to play Port Bannatyne tomorrow (Saturday) in the second social match of the season. The Summer League stableford competition continues next Thursday when competitors should make their own arrangements to play throughout the day.