Craig sets new Aboyne course record as Shannon shines in US

Shannon McWilliam, right, helped earn a half point for the Curtis Cup team
Shannon McWilliam, right, helped earn a half point for the Curtis Cup team

It was a memorable weekend for Aboyne Golf Club as history was made with a course record and club member Shannon McWilliam played in the Curtis Cup in the US.

Playing in the second round of the Club Championships, Craig Stephen (+1 handicap), shot a 61 to topple the record of 62 set by head greenkeeper Colin Forbes in July 1994.

Craig Stephen and his record-breaking scorecard

Craig Stephen and his record-breaking scorecard

Craig, a recent graduate from Brevard College in North Carolina, said: “It felt like a normal round to start with, making four solid pars, then I birdied 5, 6 and 7 and that got my attention.

“Further birdies at 9 and 10 really got me thinking about the record and once I hit the 11th fairway I said to my playing partner Brian that this was my best chance to do it.

“I birdied 14 and 16 to get to seven under and then made two solid pars to finish.”

Craig went on: “Shooting the course record at Aboyne has always been one of my goals and to finally do it I am very pleased.

“It was nice to get a little note from Colin last evening congratulating me too.

“The course is in fantastic condition and the greens are just sublime, all down to Colin and his hardworking team of greenstaff.”

Club president Justin Grant said: “Craig has been our club champion for the past five years, so it seems only right and proper that this longstanding record is broken by a player of his calibre.

“Everyone at the club is delighted for him.

“Aboyne is due to host the Scottish Golf Men’s North-East Open in August and we look forward to seeing if the record can be challenged again by Scotland’s top amateur players.”

At Quaker Ridge, New York the United States defeated Great Britain and Ireland by a record-breaking 17-3 scoreline to win the 40th Curtis Cup match but 18-year-old Shannon, the only Scot in the team, gained valuable experience playing four out of the five sessions and earned a half point in last Friday’s fourball match with partner Paula Grant.

Shannon, who sits just outside the top 200 in the world, lost her singles match on Sunday by a narrow 2 and 1 to world No 6 Lauren Stephenson, who was only one hole up heading to the 17th, which she birdied to Shannon’s par.

GB&I faced an exceptionally strong US team, who are all ranked in the top 25 amateur players in the world.

Team captain Elaine Farquharson-Black of Deeside commented afterwards: “We’re obviously very disappointed with the scoreline and all you can do is congratulate the United States on their win and the very high standard of golf they have played this week.

“We have played good golf in spells, particularly on the first day, but at this level you have to have more consistency and at times we’ve just not performed as well as we would have liked.

“We have a very young team and the players will have learned lots from this experience which will stand them in good stead for the future.

“They have given it their all in this match and I’m very proud of them.”