Caine is able and Cambridge is first class in Innerleithen championship
Innerleithen Championship Finals day dawned, grey but mild and fair. In what proved to be excellent conditions for golf, a fine day’s entertainment ensued.
Lyle Caine was playing in his second successive men’s A Class final, hoping to improve on his heavy defeat in 2020 at the hands of multiple champion Colin Fraser.
As Gregor Nicholson reports, his opponent was six-time champion Craig Phaup, who had ousted Fraser in the quarter-finals.
Caine started the stronger and, after the morning’s 18 holes, he took a three-hole advantage into the lunch break.
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A poor opening hole by Phaup in the afternoon saw Caine’s lead extend to four up, but a solid par 4 on the 3rd and a beautiful approach to four-feet for a birdie three on the 4th, brought Phaup right back into contention at just two down.
However, a bogey for Phaup on seven, a stone-dead chip for birdie by Caine on eight and a poor three-putt by Phaup on the ninth allowed Caine to go five up with nine to play.
Phaup wasn’t giving up, though, and he again clawed his way back into contention as some nervy golf surfaced.
A par 3 on the 14th was good enough to cut the deficit back to two again, only for Phaup to go straight out of bounds with his drive at the par five 15th.
Despite Phaup doing well to card a bogey 6 with his second ball, Caine held his nerve with a seven-foot par putt to go dormie three.
Caine then pulled his tee shot on the par three 16th left and short into the light rough, while Phaup’s soared straight and true into the heart of the green.
It looked odds-on that the match would be heading down the 17th . But an exquisite 25-yard chip from Caine rolled stone dead and was conceded.
Phaup’s 18-foot birdie putt had to drop to keep the match alive but missed right, resulting in a 3 & 2 victory for Caine and, with it, the Champion’s Silver Club.
So the name of Lyle Caine goes on the champions’ honours board, alongside his father Raymond and brother Gregor.
He said: “I’m delighted to be able to emulate my dad and brother in becoming club champion. It was a bit nervy towards the end but all credit to Phaupy for coming back fighting after being five down.”
In the ladies’ 18-hole final, the champion from 2013 and 2014, Janice Cambridge faced novice and first-time entrant Sarah Glendinning, who only started playing competitively last September.
Experience won the day, with Cambridge establishing an early lead. With the putter working well for her, she ran out a comfortable 7 & 6 winner of the Howden Cup.
She said: “There wasn’t much between us, tee to green, but my putting was really good on the day and made all the difference. Sarah will make it to many more finals and I’m sure it won’t be too long before she is crowned ladies’ champion.”
In the Men’s B Class Final, Mike McGovern was two down after two holes to Alan Thomson but, in a dramatic turnaround, went into the lunch break five up with some solid and consistent golf.
He continued to extend his lead in the afternoon against an out-of-sorts Thomson, who said he’d left his best golf on the course in his semi-final the previous day, and McGovern eventually ran out a convincing 10 & 9 winner.
The Men’s C Class Final was the closest match of the day. Jim Neil held a one-up advantage over Billy McRobb after the morning round and led again by the same margin with nine holes left to play.
It was back to all square after 10 and after a half on the 11th – then McRobb took four holes on the bounce to conclude the match on the 15th, with a 4 & 3 win and, accompanying it, the Royal Bank of Scotland Trophy.
Congratulations were extended to all four champions and also to the runners-up. Getting to the final is an achievement to be proud of.
Thanks were also conveyed to all those who turned out to support and help on the day.