Baden Masters: Solid Scottish start to season

de cruz win baden
Team De Cruz’s winning draw (via youtube.com/user/curlingchampionstour)

Team De Cruz scored a home victory at the Baden Masters, after the three Scottish teams in Switzerland succumbed at the quarter-final stage.

Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith all qualified from the round robin with W3 L1 records in their opening tournament of the 2016-17 season, but could progress no further than the last eight.

That left it to Peter De Cruz and Thomas Ulsrud’s rinks to contest the final, with the Swiss team taking the victory 6-5 after an extra end.

***

Curling is back, and that meant the welcome return of some of the sport’s greatest sights.

There was a strong field in Baden for the Curling Champions Tour event, including recent World and European medallists Teams De Cruz, Edin, Stjerne and #funkypants Ulsrud.

Scotland was well represented too, with Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith all involved.

Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) started their campaign with two victories – both after an extra end.

They led Team Hess of Switzerland 4-1 after four ends, but were taken to an extra end at 6-6, using hammer to score two and win 8-6; they were then pegged back to 4-4 by Team Retornaz of Italy scoring two in end eight, but again they got the job done by scoring one in the extra.

Their third match was much more straightforward, scoring two in end one and threes in ends three and four to beat Swiss Team Lottenbach 8-1, which set up a showdown with fellow unbeaten side Ulsrud – this time the Scots were on the wrong side of an extra end game, the Norwegians using hammer to score one and win 6-5.

Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) won their first match 9-4 against Swiss Team Pfister (taking a four in end five), but crashed to a 7-2 loss against another Swiss rink, Attinger, giving up two in end two, three in end four and two in end five.

But the Scots recovered from that by posting two victories – 7-4 against Team Van Dorp of the Netherlands (scoring twos in ends one and five) and 8-0 over Norwegians Team Walstad (three in end one, five in end two) – which meant that, like Brewster, they were into the quarter-finals with three wins and one loss.

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) opened with a 7-3 win over Team Morozumi of Japan, and enjoyed another comfortable win over Team Schwaller of Switzerland, twos in ends one and eight giving them a 6-3 victory.

They were edged out 4-3 by Stjerne (the Danes stealing one in end eight), but secured passage to the last eight by beating Team Brunner 5-2, scoring two against the Swiss in end one and stealing singles in ends six and seven.

Come the quarter-finals, it was over almost before it had begun for Murdoch, as Edin of Sweden scored two in end one and stole four in end two, plus another one in end three, to kill the game – handshakes at 7-0.

Brewster and Smith’s games both went down to the eighth end – Brewster leading Stjerne 2-1 in a low scoring affair (ends five to seven all blanked), but the Danes scored two in end eight to win the game 3-2.

And Smith led Ulsrud 4-3 into end eight… only to give up four at the death, and with their 7-4 defeat, the Scottish challenge¬†in the competition was at an end.

Ulsrud saw off Edin 6-5 (after another extra end) in the last four to reach the final, where they would face De Cruz of Switzerland Рwho had beaten Pfister 6-5 and Stjerne 5-1 in the knockout rounds.

That pitted the two unbeaten teams in the competition against each other – and it was an suitably tight final that went down to the wire.

The Norwegians opened with two, only for De Cruz to hit right back with three. From there they exchanged singles, Ulsrud forced to one in end eight for 5-5.

That meant hammer advantage for the Swiss in the extra end, and they needed a draw to the four-foot for victory – which they made.

So an opening tour victory for last season’s European Championships runners-up, and a solid enough start for the Scots – who will all be in Canada over the next month competing in World Curling Tour events.

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