Inaugural Air3 Tournament ends with thrilling finish

The inaugural Rob Kerigan Memorial Cup was won by the pairing of Andrew Baxter and Andrew Henderson, in what was a fantastic encounter.

Up first was the foursomes, an alternate shot event in which teamwork and technique were paramount. Team Andrew (very helpfully made up of two Andrews) made a blistering start to the day, winning the first hole with a solid 4, and the second with another 4, after a great recovery from Baxter. At 3UP after 3 holes, the game looked dead and buried for Team Paddy, made up of Paddy Wilson and Oisin Scott. A couple of halved holes on 4 and 5 gave Team Paddy some hope of a comeback, with Scott in particular making a couple of nice tee shots. However, the two Andrews took hold of the game with some deft play on holes 6 and 7 to put the foursome match beyond doubt, and score the first point of the day.

Euan Simpson was doing a fantastic job as official scorer, and he even waded in with a few shots of his own, holing a stunning putt on the second hole.

Team Andrew won the foursome game by a landslide margin of 6UP, and it was looking very ominous for Paddy and Oisin. However, things were about to get very dramatic in the singles games.

Both Heads of Sport faced each other, with Andrew Baxter and Paddy Wilson competing, and the other singles game involved Andrew Henderson and Oisin Scott, whose accuracy from the tee was very promising.

The pressure was on Paddy and Oisin for the singles games, but Oisin in particular was not going to back down. A perfectly weighted tee shot on the first set him up for a first hole victory, whilst it took a scuffed bunker shot from Wilson, and a lucky bounce from Baxter, to give Team Andrew the win in the other singles match.

Hole 2 saw a couple of very good recovery shots from both Andrews, and this was good enough to see Baxter win the hole, putting him 2UP after two holes. Henderson did just enough to halve the hole, leaving that particular game with Oisin just in the lead.

Hole 3 was a big turning point in the game. Two fantastic shots from Team Paddy put them in prime position for both Paddy and Oisin to take the hole, and that’s what they did, with Oisin 2UP after the third, with the Paddy Wilson/Andrew Baxter game very much in the balance.

Another Paddy win on Hole 4 saw that game go back to all square, and the pressure was back on the two Andrews. Henderson saved Baxter’s blushes, however, with a smart recovery shot, combined with a rare error from Scott, giving him the hole.

Hole 5 gave the advantage back to the two Andrews. In the topsy-turvy encounter between Henderson and Scott, it was Andrew who made the most of the conditions to win the hole. Play on the fifth was interrupted by a rather wet and very, very cold (especially for the two Andrews, who declined to bring a coat) downpour, which made putting very tricky. Baxter, however, produced a good putt from a tricky angle to do just enough to claim the hole, putting himself 1UP in that game.

Hole 6 saw another Henderson win, giving himself the lead for the first time in that match, while the Baxter/Wilson game was halved. Hole 7 saw Henderson’s brief lead scuppered, as a nasty bounce gave him a tricky lie, and Oisin pounced to halve that game up. With Baxter only 1UP, and the Henderson/Scott game all square, a tight finish on the last two holes was in order.

Hole 8 was a big one for Team Paddy. A missed putt from Baxter gave Paddy Wilson a window of opportunity to win the hole, which he duly took, to make that game all square going down the last. Oisin set himself up with a good tee shot, and took the hole, to put himself 1UP, with one to play.

It all came down to the last hole. If Paddy won the hole, his side would walk away with the Rob Kerigan Memorial Cup. If Baxter won, it was his side would be the winners.

The pressure was well and truly on. The pressure told with Wilson’s tee shot, a wild hook that landed right behind a bush. Baxter’s was no better, smashing straight into a tree, and dribbling unconvincingly to a position merely feet away from the tee. A miracle shot was needed to rescue the game for Team Andrew. And it was a miracle shot that he got. With over 120 metres left to the pin, Andrew struck a Pitching Wedge into the deep rough, finding the perfect angle, and his finely weighted shot ended up 20 feet from the pin, a fantastic effort from such a tricky lie.

Wilson needed a similar shot to get his way out of the hedge. Unfortunately, his shot went straight into the hedge, and rebounded out, leaving him no better off. A couple of overhit chips later and Baxter needed three putts to win the hole, and win the Cup. An underhit first putt didn’t help his nerves, but his second got to within 8 inches of the hole. With a simple tap, the third went in, handing Baxter the point, and Team Andrew the win.

Oisin beat Henderson in his game, but it was too little, too late.

Team Andrew won the first ever Rob Kerigan Memorial Cup, by 2 points to 1, on what was a thrilling afternoon’s golf.

Credit to Station Manager Euan Simpson, too, for ensuring that play was fair, and for controlling the passion in the players.

I have no doubts that Paddy Wilson will be desperate to win back the trophy, when the two sides next meet, sometime next semester. It’s going to be a cracker!

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