David Morrison had to dig deep in his opening Evening Express Champion of Champions tie to keep his hat-trick bid alive.
Two-time scratch winner David, 32, battled back from being behind on the 17th tee to clinch a 1up victory against Gavin Elrick at Dunecht House.
Meldrum House member David, who is aiming to become the first to clinch three Champion of Champions titles, admitted he called on his powers of resilience and previous course experience to get across the winning line.
“Gavin would have probably won the match if I had not had experience of playing Dunecht before,” admitted David.
“I was 2up through 13 holes, but he used his course knowledge to take some tight lines off the tee and hit some brilliant shots to win the 14th, 15th and 16th to take a one-hole lead on to the 17th tee.
“I tried to use my experience to stay calm and remain positive about the remaining holes.
“A par at the 17th was enough for me to square the game after Gavin missed the green and failed to get his par.
“We both hit well-positioned tee-shots up the last, but were long with our approaches.
“After Gavin failed to get up and down for par, I converted a nasty three-footer to win.
“I’ve been in so many close matches over the years that I know that anything can happen if you remain positive and in the right frame of mind over the closing holes.
“I put my win down to my determination to never give up and stay focused on winning even when the odds are against you.”
The plus-two handicapper, who beat Graeme Mitchell (Braemar) in the final at Stonehaven in 2012 and Graham Murray (Spey Bay) at Royal Aberdeen three years later, will now face Northern’s Cameron Johnstone in the second round.
The victory was the narrowest of the opening ties which featured several comprehensive wins.
The most notable away success was registered by Cruden Bay’s Stewart McCulloch, who defeated Blair Keen by 7&6 at Aboyne.
Inverallochy’s Bruce Wisely used home advantage to overcome Trump International’s John Borthwick by the same margin.
Dunecht’s second representative also fell at the first hurdle after Nicholas Black lost 6&5 to Andrew Ashley at Craibstone.
Andrew will now face fellow Craibstone clubmate Ian Still after he received an opening bye.
Royal Aberdeen’s Nick Macandrew was a 4&3 winner over Callum Coutts at Alford.
The Evening Express Champion of Champions is again sponsored by Aberdein Considine.
EVENING EXPRESS CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS 2021
SCRATCH – ROUND ONE
Paul Marshall (3) Newburgh scr, Donald Hardman (5) Ballater w/o; Andrew Ashley (0) Craibstone bt Nicholas Black (2) Dunecht House 6/5; Bruce Wisely (+1) Inverallochy bt John Borthwick (2) Trump International 7/6; Callum Coutts (1) Alford lost to Nicholas Macandrew (+1) Royal Aberdeen 4&3; Colin McIntosh (9) Braemar scr, Alexander Wood (3) Royal Tarlair w/o; Blair Keen (+1) Aboyne lost to Stewart McCulloch (1) Cruden Bay 7&6; Gavin Elrick (3) Dunecht House lost to David Morrison (+2) Meldrum House 1 hole; Craig Bain (0) Duff House Royal bt Eric Thomson (5) Oldmeldrum 3/2; Andrew McLure (3) Westhill w/o, Adam Burnett (1) Peterhead scr; Jamie Hall (+1) Deeside scr, Raymond Reid (5) Tarland w/o.
ROUND TWO (to be played by Monday, May 31)
Ian Welsh (2) Nigg Bay v Alex Allan (3) Auchmill; Justin Duff (0) Fraserburgh v Stewart McCulloch (1) Cruden Bay; Ferghus Milne (+3) Banchory v Adam Giles (0) Alford; Graeme Meade (3) Caledonian v Nicholas Macandrew (+1) Royal Aberdeen; Ian Still (3) Craibstone v Andrew Ashley (0) Craibstone; Kris Duncan (5) Dufftown v Robert Carr (2) Ballater; Drew Buchan (0) Peterhead v Neil Thomson (+2) Fraserburgh; Gavin Duncan (2) Trump International v Anthony Bews (0) Murcar Links; James Flett (+1) Insch v Graham Grant (2) Huntly; Kevin Stuart (4) Insch v Terry Mathieson (+1) Meldrum House; Michael Findlay (3) Cullen Links v Scott Clarihew (+2) Turriff; Scott Mitchell (9) Auchenblae v Brian Marshall (6) Lumphanan; Lewis Shand (+1) Portlethen v Cameron Black (1) North-east Boys’ Matchplay champion; Martin Lawrence (+3) Newmachar v Callum Cromar (2) Lumphanan; Gregg Walker (1) Torphins v Barry Cruickshank (3) Spey Bay; Donald Hardman (5) Ballater v Alexander Wood (3) Royal Tarlair; Craig Bain (0) Duff House Royal v Chris Gilbert (+3) Cruden Bay; Greg Ingram (0) Inverurie v Andrew McLure (3) Westhill; Ben Murray (0) Portlethen v Mark Thomson (+2) Kintore; Bruce Wisely (+1) Inverallochy v Graeme Hogg (0) Oldmeldrum; Owen Coull (1) Buckpool v Jamie Hall (+1) Deeside; Lewis Morgan (0) Kemnay v Graham Green (3) Huntly; Derek Kelman (5) Dufftown v Scott Byiers (4) Longside; Kiran Nolan (0) Kemnay v Corin Stewart (+2) Murcar Links; Craig Irvine (1) Stonehaven v Neil Main (1) Buckpool; Stewart Finnie (1) Caledonian v John Nicolson (2) Hazlehead; Gordon Lees (5) Balmoral v Barrie Edmond (+3) Defending champion; Ruaridh Fenwick (1) North-east Boys’ Strokeplay champion v Stephen Duncan (0) Rosehearty; Blair Moir (4) Keith v Kevin Willox (+2) Deeside; Andy McLeod (0) Aboyne v Robert Cattanach (8) Auchenblae; Adam Dunton (+2) McDonald Ellon v Brian Slorach (2) Strathlene; David Morrison (+2) Meldrum House v Cameron Johnstone (0) Northern.
Dennis makes an ace at Lumphanan
Dennis Robertson had a hole-in-one at the 124-yard 14th hole with a five-wood playing in the Spring Cup at Lumphanan.
His partners were Trevor Glennie and Helen Lees.