Chris Robb returned to the United States this week as the new North-east District Open champion.
About to start his third year at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, the 21-year-old from Banchory, a member at Meldrum House Golf Club, won the SGU Order of Merit event with an impressive six-under-par total of 210.
The event was reduced by NE District officials to 54 holes late last week because of a fear that Newmachar’s very wet Hawkshill fairways and greens would churn up with the “traffic” if there was more weekend rain.
Robb, a former Scottish schoolboys champion did it in style - by a five-shot margin from former Walker Cup player and past Scottish amateur champion Graham Gordon, playing over his home course.
Robb started the final round with a three-stroke lead over Gordon but Chris bogeyed the third and had a double bogey 6 at the fourth.
That mini “slump,” coupled with Gordon’s birdies at the second and fourth, saw the pair exchange places at the top of the leaderboard - Gordon moving into a one-stroke lead.
But Graham, a reinstated amateur who finished runner-up in the previous weekend’s Leven Gold Medal, let it slip with five bogeys in seven holes from the ninth. He finished with a 74 (35-39) for 205.
Meanwhile, Robb birdied the fourth, 12th, 16th and 18th for a 72 (38-34) to reassert himself as a worthy winner.
“I had not won a tournament since my freshman year in America so it’s very nice to be a winner again. I would say the NE District Open title is my biggest win on this side of the Atlantic. I would have to place my US win ahead of it simply because I beat a stronger field over there,” said Chris who feels he has learned a lot and improved his all-round game with regular exposure to high-level competitive on the US college circuit.
“I love it over there. Can’t wait to get back.
“I felt it was my driving and to a lesser extent my putting that were the key to my victory here at Newmachar. If you don’t drive it straight, you can get in a lot of trouble and I didn’t miss many fairways over the three rounds. Some of my putting wasn’t so good but some of it was, so that was another plus.
“Funnily enough, when I heard that I had lost the lead to Graham Gordon in the early stages of the final round, I actually relaxed a bit. Leading the field can be a bit of a burden, so in a way, it was not bad news for me that Graham was leading.
“As I say, I relaxed, and started to play well again with four birdies and only one bogey over my last 14 holes.”
Third on 216, a shot behind Gordon, was another former Scottish schoolboys champion, Neil Henderson (Glen, North Berwick).