Scottish Amateur crown claimed by Dunbar man after close battle with Lundin ace White at Blairgowrie
DUNBAR’S Alexander Culverwell held his nerve to achieve a career high after seeing off James White in a tight tussle to win the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship.
The 25-year-old was never behind in claiming a 2&1 victory in the 36-hole final over Blairgowrie’s pristine Lansdowne Course. There were never more than three holes in it during a tense, closely-fought contest, but Culverwell’s overall steady play ultimately saw him home.
In following in the footsteps of Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest who won the event last year, Culverwell keeps the Scottish Golf Union’s flagship title in the Lothians, while joining an impressive winners’ list that includes Ronnie Shade, Charlie Green, Colin Montgomerie, Stephen Gallacher and Dean Robertson.
Culverwell’s previous biggest success to date was his 2011 victory at the Battle Trophy on the SGU Men’s Order of Merit.
“I’m ecstatic, it’s unbelievable. I didn’t expect to do this at the start of the week but I knew I could potentially do it,” said Culverwell, who is going into his final year at the University of Stirling, where he is mentored by European Tour winner Robertson. “I just tried to play some good, solid golf and thankfully today it was good enough. It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve beaten some good names this week and James is a great player too. He tried to keep the ball in play, much as I did. That’s the key on the course.”
Lundin’s White, the SGU Men’s Performance Squad player who won the SGU Order of Merit in 2011, added: “My swing just wasn’t there today, I kind of struggled right from the off.”
Having taken the scalps of former Boys’ Stroke Play champion Greig Machbank and defending champion Forrest, Culverwell was in confident mood on a pleasant, if breezy day. He birdied the first two holes and was three-under-par through eight holes to hold a three-hole lead at the turn.
But White reduced his arrears to one at lunch after a fine approach to the 16th which struck the flag and Culverwell’s failure to pitch up and down at the 18th. Culverwell was round in one-under-par 71, a shot better than his opponent.
Good crowds enjoyed the action, with two-time Ryder Cup player Tommy Horton, Honorary Captain for the Junior Ryder Cup at Blairgowrie next year, among them.
The blustery conditions continued after lunch and it was the Lothians man who edged two-ahead at the 21st after White sliced into the trees off the tee. The Fifer hit back at the next after Culverwell went long, but it was back to two when Culverwell fired close at the short 23rd and White struggled from the bunker.
Still, White refused to go away and chipped in at the 25th before scrambling well for pars at the next two to mean Culverwell was only one ahead at the turn.
However, White again went into the trees to the right of the 29th and his bogey cost him the hole. Culverwell made a nice birdie at the 30th to go three ahead, only to concede the next and give White hope.
Three holes were halved, the 16th with birdies, before Culverwell’s par-5 at the 35th was good enough for success.
“Zander played solid, really nicely, and made it difficult for me,” added White, also 25, who beat Craig Ross of Kirkhill in the semis. “Zander hit more fairways and greens than me, so fair play to him in tough conditions. I battled my hardest to make it a close game and 2&1 is probably fair enough.”
A special word, too, should be reserved for Walker Cup hopeful Graeme Robertson who stepped in to caddie in the final after Culverwell’s girlfriend, former Scotland international Becka Wilson, had to work on the morning of the final and put down the bag.
“Zander played really well, he was really steady.
I guess I’m his lucky charm this week as I was caddying for him when he won the Battle Trophy in 2011,” said Becka after the prize-giving.
Blairgowrie staged the tournament for the first time and were superb hosts with the Lansdowne layout simply immaculate. Attention now shifts to Downfield, which will host the event in 2014.