Graham Fox edges thrilling duel at Loch Lomond Whiskies Scottish PGA Championship

What about that then? During an absorbing tussle that had more ding-dong than a bell ringing recital, Graham Fox staved off a valiant challenge from Craig Lee to win the Loch Lomond Whiskies Scottish PGA Championship in a thrilling finale at Deer Park.

The 44-year-old from West Kilbride closed with an eight-under 64 for a 23-under aggregate of 265 and won by a single shot from his inspired playing partner, Lee, who blasted a course-record equalling 63.

It was a truly compelling duel and a terrific advert for the Arnold Clark Tartan Tour. It went right to the wire too.

Fox, the overnight leader by two, held a three shot lead on the 17th but, in a significant twist in the tale, he stumbled to a bogey and opened the door for Lee, whose birdie on the penultimate hole got him to within a stroke.

With nothing to lose, Lee upped the ante and unleashed the heavy artillery on the 18th by smashing a huge drive just short of the green and chipping up to 10-feet.

Fox, safely on the putting surface in two, missed his birdie opportunity to give Lee the chance to force a play-off but the Stirling man’s effort for a new course record dribbled by. It had been a gallant effort.

Fox, the Scottish PGA champion in 2012 and the runner-up a year ago, was left to savour another victory in an event that boasts a glittering list of winners including John Panton, Bernard Gallacher, Brian Barnes, Sam Torrance, Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie.

“Craig played superbly and he was like a bad smell, I couldn’t get rid of him,” chuckled Fox of Lee’s relentless pursuit. “Because we were both playing so well, we gained momentum from each other.

“I didn’t have big expectations this week and didn’t have much time to prepare with all the coaching I’m doing. But it just goes to show you, sometimes no practice makes perfect. I had to finish 23-under to win by one. That underlines the standard and how good you have to play to win.”

There was no rest for the new champion. “I’ve got 14 clients to teach between 4pm and 9pm,” added Fox with a wry grin.

Lee reeled off seven birdies and an eagle in a rousing round but it was not enough to claim a championship he has now finished runner-up in four times.

Fox’s early birdie, eagle salvo at the first and second left Lee four behind but the former European Tour player refused to throw in the towel and hit his title rival with a series of menacing counter thrusts as the leading duo traded blows like prize fighters. At one point, you expected Lee to unearth the kitchen sink from his bag as his assault intensified.

“I threw everything at him,” said Lee. “But he wasn’t letting me in at all. Every time I hit a good shot, he was in their beside me and rolling in putts. His bogey on 17 opened the door but it just wasn’t to be.

“It was a bit disappointing in the end but I’ve played some phenomenal golf. I asked myself the question ‘can I still produce it?’ and I have. But it just wasn’t enough.”

Chris Doak finished in a distant third on 273 with Tom Higson and defending champion, Ross Cameron, sharing fourth on 274.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992