Scots International Pairs Champs

Two Scots have been crowned International Pairs World Champions after the original winners were stripped of their title.

Scottish duo John Maxwell and Stephen Brown have been crowned the new 2008 International Pairs World Champions after the winners were stripped of their title having been found to have breached the competition’s rules.

Organisers of the global event, the world’s largest of its kind for club golfers, took the decision to disqualify English pair Deen Graves and Martyn Ashcroft and hand the title to the Scots after discovering they had qualified ineligibly for the tournament and Ashcroft was not a member of the club he claimed.

Graves and Ashcroft, who now play at Teignmouth Golf Club, Devon, scored 88 Stableford points over two rounds at The Duke’s, St Andrews, last month to beat Bonnybridge duo Maxwell and Brown and romp to victory by seven points.

But it has been revealed that the pair, who play off 14 and 19, had qualified illegally for the International Pairs UK Finals from their previous club Dawlish Warren in September last year - which they subsequently won at Carnoustie to progress to the world final - while Ashcroft did not become a member until a month later.

Ross Honey, chairman of International Pairs, said: "Due to the margin of Graves and Ashcroft’s victory last month, there was a question about handicaps that we decided to look into.

"This is not unusual, but we found that not only had they held a club qualifying event that was not in accordance with the rules laid out by International Pairs, but also that Ashcroft was not a member of Dawlish Warren.

"Having looked into the matter in great detail and taken advice from organisations including The R & A, we have been left with no choice but to take the action we have. It's essential that the honesty and integrity of International Pairs is preserved, not only for our competition but to uphold the values that the game of golf stands for."

Graves, 43, and Ashcroft, 53, from Torquay, claimed they had beaten 24 other pairs to win their club qualifier at Dawlish Warren on September 13, 2007.

But they admitted when questioned that they had staged the event especially for friends to celebrate Deen’s birthday, while the pair they had listed as finishing as runners-up did not belong to their club.

Ashcroft claimed that he had joined Dawlish Warren from Exminster Golf Club at the start of September but enquiries revealed that he didn’t become a member of the club until Oct 29, 2007 - a fortnight after he and Graves won at Carnoustie.

Kevin Barker, assistant director of rules for The R & A, said: "I can confirm that based on the above, the side should be disqualified even though International Pairs has posted the results of the competition.

"The side was ineligible i.e. an actual and proper qualifying competition was not held and also Ashcroft was not a member of the club at the time either. There is no time limit on imposing a disqualification where a side was ineligible as it has not met the entry conditions."

Maxwell and Brown, who both play off four and are from Falkirk, received the news that they had been promoted to world champions on the eve of the 2008 International Pairs UK Finals - held at Carnoustie for the third year running which will also be the venue for the 2009 International Pairs World Final.

Maxwell said: "Steve and I were stunned when we were told the news that we had been promoted to world champions. “We understand the reasons for what has happened but it's going to take a while for this to sink in. “We can’t ask any more than to be crowned world champions on home soil. It’s a great honour and privilege to have won such a global event and we both feel very proud to be involved with the International Pairs.”

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?