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Stars of sport take delight in visit to Royal Aberdeen ahead of Scottish Senior Open

Gordon Strachan speaks before teeing off at Royal Aberdeen
Gordon Strachan speaks before teeing off at Royal Aberdeen

From Gothenburg Greats, to the Scottish national rugby team coach and a Scottish snooker great, it seems there were stars galore at Royal Aberdeen for the Scottish Senior Open Celebrity Pro-Am.

Former Aberdeen midfielder Gordon Strachan was joined by Evening Express columnist Willie Miller, John Hewitt and Jim Leighton from the all-conquering Dons team of 1983 in taking part, with Gregor Townsend, Stephen Hendry and Robbie Fowler also among the celebrities enjoying the festivities alongside the professionals.

Stephen Hendry was all smiles at Royal Aberdeen.

Strachan, who has a handicap index of 8.7, has work to do to catch-up with Hewitt, playing off 0.5, and Leighton, who was listed as scratch in the handicap index published at the course, and he was in disbelief upon hearing the impressive form of his former team-mates.

He said: “What are they doing these guys? That’s fantastic from John and Jim. I haven’t seen these guys for ages so I’ll hopefully catch up with them.

“My home course in the Midlands is the Warwickshir, but I don’t manage to play regularly due to all these jobs I have.”

For Strachan, this was his first visit to the Balgownie Links and, having been partnered with Ian Woosnam, it was clear he was looking forward to it.

He said: “I haven’t been here before. When I played here for seven years our lads weren’t deemed good enough to play here. We might have brought the level of professionalism down, so I’m really looking forward to this.

“I’m playing with Woosie, so we’re matching up with true height and unfortunately he’s the only one remotely close to me. I think that’s why we’re playing together.”

Former Liverpool striker Fowler’s trip to Royal Aberdeen was also his first and he had the honour of playing in the final group alongside tournament host and former Open champion, Paul Lawrie.

He said: “It’s a lovely place. I’ve been up to Scotland many times and been to Aberdeen, but I’ve never played golf up here. I believe it’s an absolute winner course so I can’t wait to get out there.

“Any footballer will tell you when you retire you either go on the golf course or into the betting shop and I don’t think my wife would be too happy if I was in the betting shop all the time.

“It’s good to get out and mix with people and it’s nice to get out and play on some of the fantastic golf courses with some fantastic players here on the Legends Tour.

“It’s an incredible experience and, if anyone does get the chance to put their name down and play, I would highly recommend it.”

Robbie Fowler during his round.

When told of the challenge of playing the infamous front nine, the former Liverpool striker said: “I’ll be the judge of that. It depends how I play. You’ll probably see it on my face when I come back in.”

One man who had played Royal Aberdeen previously was Scotland national rugby coach Gregor Townsend. His memory of the course was hazy, but he was certainly happier with the serene conditions on his return.

He said: “I love playing new golf courses and good golf courses. I have played here once before, about 10 years ago on a golf trip with a few rugby guys.

“Stuart Grimes, his dad was a member here and got us on to here, and it was lovely. I’m sure it will be in great condition today.

“It was windier that day than it is today, but whether that will help me or not I don’t know.

“Playing in pro-ams is not a regular thing for me, but it is something I’d like it to be. I just don’t have the time.

“In the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried to say yes to things. I’ve played in one four years ago, so to actually play in a pro-am at an actual tournament will be fantastic and I hope playing alongside a pro can actually help my game.”


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