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Published on : Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The Glasgow-based pair of Stuart McMeekin and Kyle Lochhead won through the qualifier at The Carrick at Cameron House on Loch Lomond to claim their place in the September showdown after they held all the aces to shoot 44 Stableford points in testing weather conditions.
The competition is held in association with Elegant Golf Resorts – specialists in luxury golf holidays – and Monarch. It boasts a top prize of an all-inclusive stay including flights at the lavish Mediterranean five-star resort in Belek on the Turkish Riviera.
The duo, who first met several years ago during regular friendly poker games, registered a steady 19 points on the front nine. But they then went all in with a stunning back nine display as they rattled off 25 points to snatch victory with McMeekin’s birdie on the 18th grabbing the all-important four-pointer to steal the pot from their rivals on countback.
Lochhead is certainly used to dealing with the competitive pressure having made three first-team appearances in 2011 for Partick Thistle during his days as a professional footballer.
But the 23-year-old 15-handicapper, who is set to go to university to take a sports coaching qualification in September, holds no grudges against his playing partner despite a few losing hands around the poker table.
Lochhead said: “We’ve been playing poker together for a few years now – there’s certainly been a few quid lost by me but Stuart always seems to do alright. He never bluffs but always seems to get good hands. We think he might have a few spare cards he brings along!
“We played well as a team on the day and it’s a fantastic course. I thought we had no chance so it was surprising that we’d won so we’re looking forward to playing at Stoke Park now.”
McMeekin, a 29-year-old project planner, has recently returned to golf after a serious knee injury but found some of his old form when it mattered.
He said: “I’ve got back into it again recently when I was thinking of chucking my clubs up in the loft.
“It was probably the worst conditions I have ever played in but we certainly made the most of it. The rain was hammering down but it was a great day, despite the weather.”
Long-standing club members Wyllie Robertson and Gordon English triumphed 24 hours earlier in the event held at nearby Helensburgh Golf Club as they took the honours with 45 Stableford points – just one better than their closest rivals.
The pair dodged the worst of the weather but profited from some smart work around the greens to post their winning total.
English said: “We holed a few putts throughout the round between us. I duffed a chip at one point and then holed the next one. When things like that happen, you start thinking it might be your day.”
English, however, is unavailable for the Stoke Park Grand Final with a cruise holiday already booked so club captain Ian Irving is due to step in and team up with Robertson.
“We haven’t had a discussion yet on who gets to go to Gloria if they win. I’ve got a feeling it probably won’t be me sadly! We’ll talk about that if they win – there’s a long way to go before we get to that point,” smiled English.
Robertson said: “Myself and Gordon teamed up well but Ian will be stepping in and I’m pleased to say he will be a partner of equal quality! It was a very enjoyable day and we will do our best at Stoke Park.”
The competition now returns south of the border to Mottram Hall, Cheshire on July 30 before moving on to The Mere Golf Resort & Spa on August 6.
The eventual winners will be flying from London Gatwick to Antalya airport in Turkey with scheduled leisure airline Monarch. Antalya is one of more than 40 destinations that Monarch flies to from its five UK bases including London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds Bradford and London Luton.
Elegant Golf Resorts are currently offering a seven-night, all-inclusive stay at Gloria Serenity Resort with three rounds of golf across Gloria Old and Gloria New courses from £739pp, subject to availability.
Price includes all food and beverages, meet and greet, private airport transfers and is based on two adults sharing a double room and groups of eight golfers (£869pp for a group of four, £889pp for a group of two). The offer is valid from March 11 – April 25, 2017.