GULLLANE, Scotland (July 30, 2010) -- Fraserburgh’s Jordan Findlay will face Troon Welbeck’s Michael Stewart in tomorrow’s Allied Surveyors Scottish Amateur Championship final after a fantastic exhibition of golf in this afternoon’s semi-finals on the East Lothian coast.
The pair, who played together as foursomes partners for the victorious Scotland Boys Home Internationals team back in 2006 and also as team-mates at East Tennessee State University, were a combined 13-under-par for their semi-finals, and will square up tomorrow for the first time for what should be a fantastic battle over Gullane’s No 1 links.
Stewart fought back from an early two-hole deficit to power to a 4&3 victory over Dunbar’s Stephen Neilson, shortly before Findlay overcame the challenge of number one seed James Byrne with a one hole win to book his place in the final.
Findlay, the former British Boys Champion, capped a resurgent season by edging out Byrne in a pulsating match, holing birdie putts for halves at the final two holes to stave off a comeback from his fellow North East star. The 22-year-old from Fraserburgh fired seven birdies, the highlight of which was a holed bunker shot at the long par four eighth hole, and signed off with a tricky 6-foot putt on the final green after Byrne applied pressure by sinking a 20-foot effort.
“It’s great to be in the final and it makes all the hard work worthwhile. That’s what your practice for and it was brilliant to be involved in such a great match with James. We both made some really good birdies and I holed some good putts to fend him off. I’ve never played Michael before but we’ve been friends for a long time and I’m looking forward to playing him.” said a thrilled Findlay, who is coached by Bob Torrance.
Stewart, coached by Ian Rae for the past 18 months, continued where he left off from previous rounds with a birdie at the opening hole, although fell two behind after Neilson birdies at the 2nd and 5th, coupled with a rare Stewart bogey at the short fourth.
The 2008 Scottish Boys Champion from Troon bounced back with a birdie at the 6th before holing from 25-feet at the 7th for another birdie after finding heavy rough with his tee-shot. A great up and down for par at the 8th put him one in front and he drained another long putt for a birdie two at the 9th to win after Neilson missed from closer range for his two.
He made it four holes in a row with pars at the tough 10th and 11th holes and birdied the 12th to go four up after Neilson three-putted from the back of the green. Neilson fought back with an excellent two at the 13th but Stewart sealed the game at the long 15th in sensational style, smashing his 3-wood approach from 290 yards to within six feet of the pin.
“I played great golf again today and my putter is getting hotter. Stephen played well early on but I always felt confident. The turning point was probably the birdie on the seventh, after I pushed my tee-shot and just managed to scramble it onto the green.” said a delighted Stewart.
“Jordan and I have been friends since I was 11-years-old so it will good fun to play him tomorrow, although serious stuff. I know how good a match player he is having played with him for the Scottish Boys team and I’m sure we’ll have a good match. Hopefully I’ll get a few supporters coming through from Troon to cheer me on and there was great support from the locals out there today.” he added.
The 36-hole final tees off at 8.30am on Saturday morning, with the afternoon round commencing at 1.00pm. Entrance is free and spectators are welcome.