04 Jul 17
Andrew Skinner (left) with amateur partner Gary Gruber.
Amateur Gary Gruber sank a dramatic last-gasp 18th hole putt to send Royal Dornoch Golf Club into the Lombard Trophy Final.
But neither he nor his Professional partner Andrew Skinner knew exactly how important the shot was.
They pairing recorded a six under par round of 65 at Craigielaw Golf Club to win by one shot ahead of a three-way tie for second place with David Orr/Neil Carruthers (Eastwood Golf Club); Gary Vickers/David Carruthers (Tyneside Golf Club) and Alan Reid/Reevie Thomson (West Lothian Golf Club) just missing out on top spot.
Sutherland duo Skinner and Gruber will now head to Portugal for the £41,000 National Pro-Am grand final which will be played at the Vila Sol resort between September 21-22.
Estate manager Gruber, 38-year-old a four-handicapper, admitted he had no idea he was lining up the winning putt.
“Had I known it was such an important shot, there’s a fair chance I would’ve missed it,” he said.
“Thankfully I wasn’t aware of all that was going on around me. It was lucky as there was a tight finish at the end with a lot of teams on that five under par mark. It was good to make the birdie but even more so as it was so decisive.
“For an amateur, it’s difficult to know what is a winning score for these types of events. I knew we were going well but I was blissfully unaware. If I’d known we were featuring at the top maybe we wouldn't have had as strong a finish.
“If I’m honest, I didn’t realise that the Portugal final was the next step in this competition, I thought we had a couple more rounds before we were afforded such a great trip.
“Andy’s a great friend, we’ve known each other for about 20 years and have kind of grown up together so it’s even better that we get to travel to an event like this.
“I’ve been playing since I was three or four years old and grew up in a golfing family. My sister’s a handy player so now I can tell her I’ve finally won something.”
Skinner says he has never missed a Lombard Trophy qualifying event since it started - but this will be his first final.
“I said in my speech at the end that it was about time I won one of these events! I think we’re looking at about 20 years,” said the PGA Professional.
“You always think about getting that one performance that will take us to the final. But the fact that Gary and myself are good friends was a big advantage. It made the difference, he wasn’t nervous playing with me which can happen with some of my previous amateur partners.
“We only knew we’d taken the lead when the guys we were playing with looked it up on their phones by going to the PGA website, he didn’t tell us until we’d finished the hole which was the best thing.”