Several leading challengers as Bute GC Winter League enters final stretch

Richie Smith (pictured) came closest to matching Graham McArthur in the latest round of Bute Golf Club's Winter League
Richie Smith (pictured) came closest to matching Graham McArthur in the latest round of Bute Golf Club's Winter League

Former club champion Graham McArthur shot up Bute Golf Club’s Winter League table on Saturday to join the group of title challengers who have now completed eight counting scores in the Stableford tournament.

And he did it in style with a resounding victory which gave him his second outright win of the current series with a total of 40 points.

His score of four-over-par 72 was also the best scratch return of the day.

No-one else in the field came close to matching McArthur’s performance with Richie Smith (handicap 19) in second place on 35 points, Stuart Wilson (10) third with 34 and Graeme Connor (13) fourth, two points further adrift.

Three-times’ club champion McArthur now has his eye on the McArthur Cup, gifted for the tournament by his late father in 1986, and which he has never won.

The eight-handicapper has been runner-up on two occasions and would dearly love to add that special piece of silverware to a significent catalogue of successes over the years.

But McArthur faces a tough challenge in the race to catch runaway leader Leighton Thomas over the remaining four rounds of the tournament.

Thomas has a tally of 313 points from eight counting scores and time is running out for the main challengers.

Saturday’s victory took McArthur to a total of 288 points from eight returns but he has two low scores to discard and repeats of his weekend form could possibly take him to within striking distance of the leader.

It was a gritty performance by the player who scored 21 points on the outward half with a birdie at the ninth giving him a score of one-over-par 35.

A lost ball at the 11th spoiled a great run of scoring in conditions made more difficult by an ever-freshening wind.

However a further birdie at the 18th limited the damage as he finished the back-nine with 19 points for his winning total of 40.

Overall leaders in the tournament sponsored by Stephen Thomas of Optimize Financial Solutions Ltd are: L. Thomas 313 points, J. Kernaghan 292, J. Thom 291, D. Bryden 290, G. McArthur 288, S. Wilson 283, S. Smith 264.

Ted McDonald is the main challenger among the many players who have not completed eight counting rounds.

The 17-handicapper has three scores of 40 points or better and has a tally of 254 from seven rounds.

The first of the remaining four rounds takes place on Saturday with the usual 8.30am ballot at the clubhouse.

The series of nine-hole Stableford competitions continues next Wednesday when players should make their own arrangements.