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Clark flying high after US visit

Concession Cup is experience of a lifetime for Scots

KILMACOLM’S Matt Clark has described playing in the inaugural Concession Cup as an ‘incredible experience’.

The 32-year-old, who is a three-time winner on the SGU Men’s Order of Merit, rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin during the event as he was selected with three other countrymen to play in the new biennial match between amateur sides from America and Great Britain and Ireland.

The tournament pits leading male mid-amateurs (25 and over), senior amateurs (55 and over) and super-senior amateurs (65 and older) in 18-man teams, with the inspiration for the event coming from Nicklaus’ concession of Jacklin’s short putt to produce the first ever tie in Ryder Cup history in 1969. The duo served as honorary co-captains of the matchplay event, which was played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Concession Golf
Club in Florida.

UNBELIEVABLE

“The experience was unbelievable, incredible,” said Clark. “We had an opening dinner with the honorary captains, Nicklaus and Jacklin, and the charity auction raised huge sums of money.

“Both teams then gelled well and I, personally, have made a few everlasting friendships with guys from both teams I would never have met otherwise.”

Clark was joined in the team by three fellow Scots: St Andrews’ James Bunch as a fellow mid-amateur; Dumfries and County’s Ian Bortherston as a senior; and Ian Hutcheon from Monifieth as a super senior.

The US side claimed the title with a 21½-14½ win, but the match was much tighter than the score suggests.

The score was tied at 4½-4½ after the first day’s foursomes, with super seniors Peter Hedges and Hutcheon staging an impressive fightback from four-down to beat former US Walker Cup captains Jim Holtgrieve and Robert Lewis.

The momentum moved majorly in the USA’s favour on the second day, however, as they won seven-and-a-half points from a possible nine to establish a six-point lead heading into the 18 singles ties on the final day.

The climax of the match was delayed for six hours by bad weather but all matches were still able to be completed with Clark sealing a one-hole win over Patrick Christovich, who had won the Coleman Cup, one of the biggest Mid-Am events in US, the week before.

HONORARY

“Despite the result, to top off the experience off, all the inaugural particpants have been made honorary members at the Concession Club,” added Clark.

“The guys behind the event are determined for it to become a huge event, to run in the years when the Walker Cup is not contested. We were told it will definitely be played in two years’ time, if sponsors can be found.

“It’s a tournament I would urge anyone to get behind, and grab with both hands if offered a chance to participate in.”

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