Murcar Links Golf Club’s Bryan Innes admits he faces one of his toughest opening ties in his bid for a hat-trick of Evening Express Champion of Champions titles.
Bryan, who plays off plus-one, has been handed an away match at Portlethen against plus-four handicapper Ben Murray.
Bryan, 52, said: “I have been working on my game and looking forward to the year ahead.
“I have just returned from a week in Dubai, where conditions were excellent for practice.
“Pulling Ben at Portlethen is a tough draw, but I also look at it as an opportunity, especially as I enjoy the course and it is always presented very well.”
Bryan first won the Champion of Champions scratch title in 1995 after beating Bruce Main (Cullen) at Duff House.
Sixteen years later, Bryan lifted the trophy for a second time after beating Adam Lindsay (Banchory) at Aboyne.
Bryan added: “The Champion of Champions has given me success over the years.
“My first victory was the catalyst for me moving to Murcar and taking my game up a level.
“I’ve also had my share of disappointments, but it’s an event you want to win and I will need to be on it from the off.
“I have good memories from last year with wins in the Maitland Shield, Links Championship and joint first place at Phillips Trophy, although I had a disappointing stretch in the middle of the season.
“But, although Murcar lost the Pennant League final and were defeated by a hole in the final of Northern Counties, my game towards the end of the season was very good, so I’m looking to pick up on the same vein.”
The men’s scratch event is one of six Champion of Champions tournaments being staged by the north-east district, which are sponsored by Aberdein Considine.
The property, legal and financial law firm are providing £200 vouchers to all six winners, £100 to the runners-up and £50 to the semi-finalists.
Scheduling of Scottish Boys Open is puzzling
Well done to Scottish Golf for taking the best option at last week’s weather-hit Scottish Boys Open at Murcar Links.
A cut was made following the first round after high winds ruled out play on the second day.
The top-47 players qualified to play two rounds on Friday, which maintained the integrity of the 54-hole tournament.
But it’s puzzling why such a prestigious tournament is not played at a more suitable time of year.
It’s a championship traditionally staged during the April school holidays, but for most of them held in the north-east over the last 20 years, the weather has been appalling.
The format of three days of strokeplay is also less flexible than the Scottish Boys Matchplay that was previously held during the Easter holidays.
Sympathy lies with the lads that had their practise rounds disrupted due to eve-of-tournament snow and those who just missed the cut by a stroke or two after travelling from afar.
Newly-crowned champion Dylan Shaw-Redford, from England, deserves his place in the history books for producing some tremendous golf in the worst of the weather, while Kemnay’s Fraser Laird proved the best of the north-east contingent.
Near Banff? You can still enter prestigious tournaments
Time is running out to apply to play in the Abercromby Cup, Robertson Cup and Felicity Trophy this year.
Clubs, which are within the boundaries of the former county of Banff – or within a radius of 35 miles of Duff House – are invited to join the inter-club team tournaments.
The Abercromby Cup is for gents, the Felicity Trophy for juniors, while the Robertson Cup is for ladies – with all three tournaments requiring eight players.
Club secretaries are reminded the closing date for applications is Friday, April 15, with the finals at Duff House on Sunday, September 11.