Steven Rennie holds his nerve to seal Lanarkshire win

Steven Rennie sealed Lanarkshire's first Scottish Area Team Championship success since 1998 as a thrilling title decider against Lothians came down to the final hole in the ninth and last match at Dalmahoy.
Lanarkshire lifted the trophy for the first time since 1998. Photograph: Kevin KirkLanarkshire lifted the trophy for the first time since 1998. Photograph: Kevin Kirk
Lanarkshire lifted the trophy for the first time since 1998. Photograph: Kevin Kirk

With the score locked at 4-4, the 36-year-old Drumpellier player kept his nerve to hit a fairway-splitting tee shot at the testing closing hole on the East Course and duly held on to his slender lead over opponent Jordyn Rhind to secure victory in the GolfKings-sponsored event.

“That’s a big relief,” admitted Rennie after being mobbed in front of the iconic Dalmahoy clubhouse by his team-mates, some of whom had suffered bitter disappointment when losing to Renfrewshire in the final two years ago.

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“I knew from about five holes to play that it was probably going to come down to my match and to achieve a win like this for Lanarkshire with such a great bunch of guys is pretty special.”

Having earlier accounted for Fife and North-East, Lanarkshire edged the morning foursomes 2-1 before moving into a strong position when the top two singles were claimed by Craig Ross and Ed Wood, both winning 2&1 against Calum Hill and Stuart McLaren respectively.

Ross, the South African Amateur champion, was five-under for the holes played and effectively slammed the door shut on 2015 Scottish Open qualifier Hill by hitting a “perfect gap wedge” to around two feet for a birdie at the 16th.

Reinstated amateur Wood then produced an equally impressive blow – a 5-iron from 196 yards that set up a birdie-2 at the 17th as he, too, delivered a crucial early point in the afternoon session. “It was important that we got off to a good start in the singles,” admitted the 34-year-old.

That was certainly evident as Lothians, the record 13-time winners but seeking a first title triumph in the event’s current format, hit back through Eric McIntosh, Lee Morgan and Euan McIntosh before Rennie emerged as the hero by sealing a third victory for Lanarkshire in the event’s 40-year history.

“I’m proud of the boys,” said team manager Willie Sharpe of a side that also included Dominic Dougan, Gordon Yates and 53-year-old Ken Gallacher. “I knew we had a chance coming into the event because we had an excellent mix and Steven Rennie proved down the stretch what we’ve always known – that he is a superb player.”

The triumph completed an Area Team double for Lanarkshire this year after they pipped Lothians by a shot in the boys’ event at Grangemouth in June.