Penalty drop can't stop Ryan Copland from claiming glory at Elgin Golf Club's five-day open as a stunning recovery helps him defeat jaded home hopeful Jordan Milne to lift the Kynoch Shand Cup.
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The greatest achievement in Ryan Copland's golfing career was helped by one of the best shots of his life.
Copland (30) emerged with the top prize at Elgin Golf Club's Grierson Wealth Management five-day open after lifting the Kynoch Shand Cup on Friday.
The Moray Golf Club golfer came from behind to defeat home hopeful and good friend Jordan Milne by one hole in a closely-fought final.
The new dad, whose son Cameron was born just two-and-a-half months ago, showed he was the daddy of a Hardhillock course in prime condition with a victory he considers even greater than his success in last year's Buckpool four-day open.
"I would say it's my biggest golfing achievement to date," he said. "The course is in incredible condition, every time I play it, it’s superb."
Play was interrupted on Monday due to torrential rain but fortune favoured Copland as he wasn't on the course at that time and just had to endure a short wait before he started the tourney.
"The worst weather was when I turned up in the car park on Monday, so I got pretty lucky. I got delayed for an hour but by the time I went out it was absolutely perfect."
Burghead-based Copland defeated Cameron Milne in the semi-finals, then had to wait more than three hours for the other match to finish as Cameron's brother Jordan finally triumphed on the tenth extra hole against Dean McPherson.
The final was a topsy-turvy affair, with Copland describing how the advantage swung one way then the other, directed by some stunning shots.
"Jordan holed a good birdie put on 11 to go one up, then he stuck it right on the green on the 12th, a short par four.
"I’ve blocked it right with not very much of a shot left. I’ve managed to pitch it on to the green and he’s rolled it up to inches away, narrowly missing his eagle putt and I’ve holed a 20-footer, a big swinging right-to-left putt that’s just dropped into the hole."
Expecting to go two holes down, Copland rescued a half with his birdie and it proved to be a big turning point as he won both the 13th and 14th to edge in front.
On 16, Copland's lead looked destined to be doubled when Milne's tee shot ended up in the trees and bushes down the right, while Copland fired straight down the middle of the fairway. Although Milne found his ball, he seemingly had no shot to play.
"He said he was going to have a swipe at it but I didn't think he has a chance - I thought I was potentially going to be two up with two to play," Copland added.
"I don’t know how he managed it but he hit this thing out to the front of the green from where he was. It was a great shot and he managed to make a half."
On the next hole, Copland decided to play an iron off the tee to give him a nice, full shot to the green. Instead, he pulled it left and his ball landed against a tree which hadn't been staked, meaning he had to take a penalty drop.
In contrast, Milne struck his drive just 20 yards short of the green and poised to level things up going on to the 18th hole.
"I took my drop away from the tree then hit my wedge to within about four feet. He chipped on and two-putted and I’ve holed mine so I kept my advantage going down the last.
"In the circumstances I think it’s probably one of the best pars I’ve ever made."
Both players missed the fairway down the last, but Milne had to take a penalty drop this time.
"I was left of the trees so I could only hit it up to pin high, left of the green. I was standing over my chip to the green and he was on the green for three with a 25 foot putt for his four.
"There was a hollow in front of me so I just needed to hit a chip that didn’t go into it, and managed to hit it to the back of the green then rolled it up to maybe two feet and he gave me my putt.
"I knew he had to hole the 25-footer to extend the match, and he never managed it.
"It was certainly a good feeling to win it. Jordan has been a great player for years and I’m really good pals with him, have been for years. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I managed to dig in and get the win.
"He played 28 holes in the semi-finals, so I had to wait three-and-a-quarter hours to play the final whereas he was still out there playing. I’m not sure who that helped, you could say I would have been a lot fresher but he was warmed up at the same time.
"I was getting a bit bored and he was probably getting tired. He played 46 holes in total so that could have played to my advantage.
"I beat his little brother in the semi-finals as well. Their parents Stevie and Lorraine came over and congratulated me at the end. They are a great family and I have always got on great with them."
Copland's next event will be on his own course, with Moray Golf Club's five-day open beginning next Monday.
A member both at Moray and Nairn, he got to know Elgin Golf Club in his teenage years when he was an apprentice greenkeeper there.
Based in Mosstodloch at the time, he had memberships at Garmouth and Kingston, and Maverston before joining the Lossiemouth links.
"The furthest I've got at Moray's five-day is the quarter-finals, so I'm hoping to make it to the Friday if I can and lean on some of the spirit of the Elgin five-day to help me.
"Lossie’s field is generally a bit deeper with some more good players in it. I have home advantage but that means nothing.
"Jordan has won the Moray Open and I’ve won the Elgin one, neither of us have won our home club’s five-day so it’s a strange game.
"Of course I would love to win at Moray but that’s easier said than done."
Copland's last competition at Moray was the recent Northern Open on the Scottish order of merit, a prestigious event luring many of the best golfers in the country.
"That was tough going. The course was a lot firmer and the wind a lot stronger but I guess that’s what I’m used to, playing at Lossie.
"It was a great experience, playing against professional players and some good players there. I finished 14th or 15th there, that was a decent achievement for me."