Meldrum House’s Chris Robb tonight claimed his biggest amateur title, the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship at Downfield, and made it three-wins-in-a-row on home soil in 2014.
The 23-year-old saw off the challenge of Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson 4&3 in their 36-hole final, played out in difficult, wet conditions over the superb former Open qualifying venue in Dundee.
Having won the East of Scotland Championship at the end of June and then the Cameron Corbett Vase on the Scottish Golf Union’s Men’s Order of Merit, Robb put the seal on a superb month’s golf after securing the nation’s flagship amateur event.
Joining a roll of honour that includes Charlie Green, Colin Montgomerie, Stephen Gallacher and Dean Robertson, Robb takes the trophy back to Aberdeen for the first time since the second of David Law’s Scottish Amateur wins in 2011.
Robb, a former Boys’ international, completed his college career at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga earlier this year, earning All-American honours, and has continued his form in some style on Scottish soil.
Behind by two holes early on against ex-Great Britain & Ireland cap Robertson, Robb moved three ahead by the 13th only to see his lead reduced to just one at lunch after a topsy-turvy opening 18 holes.
The north-east player restored his three-hole advantage in the first eight holes after lunch - thanks to a hat-trick of birdies from the sixth - only for Robertson to claw his lead back again. However, Robb’s 15-yard chip in at the short 30th ultimately proved crucial, before he saw the game out on the 33rd.
“My match play record has not been good, but I suppose you can say it’s good now,” laughed Robb, coached by Neil Marr, Scottish Golf National Under-18s coach, at Meldrum House. “It’s been a good run. I’ve won the last three tournaments I’ve played in, so I’d like to keep that record going!
“I played good finishing in the US and from then on I’ve just kept it going. Once you can get a couple of good results, you just learn, build on it and get a bit of confidence going - confidence is everything really.”
Helped by friend Liam Johnston on his bag, Robb came out on top in the 256-man field, playing nine matchplay rounds before lifting the coveted silverware on the toughest day of the week for scoring.
“I’m very pleased with how things went,” he added. “The weather could have been nicer, but it’s been really nice all week. It was cold as well. The wind was completely the other direction to what we played the rest of the week, so it was difficult. This win hasn’t really sunk in yet; it always sinks in the day after I think.”
As for his pivotal chip in, he said: “It wasn’t very easy, it was pretty poor off the tee. We were talking about whether to bump it into the bank and let it release or get it up and land it softly, so we did the latter.
“Going in, it was a bit of a bonus. I was really happy with the chip anyway, it would have been stiff but going in was fantastic. You try not to think it’s going to be your day, as things can go wrong pretty fast. I remember being six up with six to play in a match at Royal Troon in the Scottish Amateur in 2009 and won on the last.”
Robertson felt the long par-5 29th was important as well, having reduced Robb’s lead to one hole at that point. Like the morning round, he found the thick rough to the right of the green with his approach and handed his opponent the hole.
Robertson, 26, said: “I think the 11th was the key in the afternoon. But I felt like I had chances on the 4th and 5th before that, missed a couple of putts, and then he birdied 6, 7 and 8.
“He let me back into it on 9 and 10 with his tee shots, but the 11th was the key. We both hit poor shots in there in the morning round, and with his shot shape I knew he was going to struggle with the second shot if I managed to put one in the middle of the green, but I didn’t.
“With his chip in I just thought it wasn’t going to be my day, as I had been grinding away and shaved the hole on a few putts. It just didn’t quite happen. It’s still been a great week, it’s the best I’ve done in this competition. Second is still a really good achievement.”