McKinnon lands Cardrona Challenge booty


James McKinnon won the Cardrona Hotel 36-hole Challenge at the Peebles venue by one stroke from overnight joint leader James Byrne.

But the Ayrshireman's cruise to the winning line was almost sunk by a triple bogey seven at the penultimate hole.

McKinnon, a pro since 1992, looked to have the £1,750 first prize all but signed, sealed and deliver when he improved his overnight six-under-par position to 12-under-par with birdies at the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, 12th and 16th - offset by a single bogey at the short 16th.

Banchory's Byrne, level on six-under at the start of the round, could not keep up with

McKinnon's blistering pace even though he himself had an eagle at the 12th and birdies at the second, sixth and eighth.

Trouble was James also kept dropping shots at regular intervals - the third, fifth, seventh and 14th.

When McKinnon birdied the 16th to move to 12-under, he was five shots clear of Byrne, his only rival in the scoring stakes. Then came a dramatic four-stroke swing between the leaders at the 17th. Byrne birdied it to get to eight-under while

McKinnon ran up that seven to slump to nine-under-par.

High tension for the last hole. But McKinnon drew on his 21 years' experience to grind out a par down the 18th for a 69 and a total of 135, one shot ahead of Byrne who had to settle for a closing two-under 70 after he could not get the birdie that would have seen the 24-year-old Northern Open champion force a play-off over the course where he won the Scottish boys' stroke-play title in 2007.

Still, Byrne earned £1,250 as a consolation prize.

A hole in one at the fifth helped Graham Fox (Clydeway Golf) to tie for third place on 138 with Chris Kelly (Cawder), the long-time leader in the clubhouse after posting a second-round, best of the day 67, and Jason McCreadie (Buchanan Castle). They each earned £800.

Kelly's girlfriend, Heather MacRae (Gleneagles) also had a very good tournament.

She had rounds of 72 and a five-birdie 71 to finish joint 15th on 143 and earn £170.

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