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Aberdeen legend John Hewitt qualifies for Evening Express Champion of Champions

John Hewitt.
John Hewitt.

Gothenburg Great John Hewitt will become the first Aberdeen player or ex-player to play in the Evening Express Champion of Champions next year.

In the year, the Dons celebrate 40 years since the club’s greatest achievement – their 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup success – John will play in the men’s seniors tournament after winning the equivalent category at Murcar Links this season.

One-handicapper John, 59, booked his place after defeating Iain Galbraith in an extra-time thriller…  clinching the Murcar title at the first extra hole.

John, who famously came off the bench to head home the extra-time winner against Real Madrid in Sweden, said: “I was chuffed to bits after winning the Murcar Links title.”

“It’s another proud moment in my career,” added John, a materials controller with Ithaca Energy.

John Hewitt heads home the Aberdeen winner against Real Madrid during extra time in Gothenburg.
John Hewitt turns away in delight after scoring the Dons’ second.

“I lost to Iain in the seniors final at Murcar last year and it was another very close affair.

“I took a three-hole lead after five holes, but that advantage had disappeared when we stood on the 12th tee.”

John added: “I missed a three-footer on the 15th to go one up, but then holed my 50-yard approach for an eagle two at the 17th to edge ahead.

“However, I lost the last after Iain made a great up and down, but I eventually clinched the title after Iain three-putted the first extra-hole.

“I’ve had a pretty good season and managed to pick up one or two vouchers, which is always pleasing.

“I’m really looking forward to next year’s Champion of Champions and getting the opportunity to play against the best seniors around the north-east.”

The good news for Murcar is they will have both players in next year’s tournament.

Iain will return as the defending Champion of Champions men’s seniors title holder, after beating Banchory’s Davie Brand in this year’s final at Kemnay.

Taking the pressure off helps Stephen claim Ballater title

Stephen Cooper’s laid-back approach paved the way for him to win the Ballater club championship.

One-handicapper Stephen has been a Ballater member for six years, but his previous challenges had come up short.

Stephen, 47, said: “After playing a limited amount of golf in the past two seasons because of Covid, I started this season with very low expectations.

“I was just happy to be back playing golf regardless of the scores.

“In many ways, it helped me during the club championship week.

“In previous championships, I had put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well and did not get the best out of my game.”

“This year I was five shots behind the first round leader Daniel Aitken after an opening 73,” added speciality chemical company manager Stephen.

“However, I remained positive and after excellent second and third rounds of 70 and 68, I started the final round with a slim one-shot lead from Daniel.

“I knew it was going to be challenging due to the high winds, but, despite losing the lead to Daniel early in the round, I remained patient and was delighted to win by one shot from Gordon Lees.

“I was made to feel welcome since the first day I entered the club, so to win my first club championship is special.

Ballater Golf Club champion 2022, Stephen Cooper.

“I have always enjoyed representing the club, whether it be in league or interclub matches, so I am relishing the opportunity to represent Ballater in the Evening Express Champion of Champions.

“I really like the matchplay format and look forward to testing my game against other north-east champions.

“I have always enjoyed working on my game and during this winter I aim to improve my approach play.

“Next season I plan to play more open events and hopefully defend my club championship title.”

Stephen was previously a member at Tarland, Aboyne and Banchory, where he lives.

North-east’s Carmen wins maiden US event

Aboyne’s Carmen Griffiths clinched her first win in the United States at the Olde Stone Intercollegiate tournament.

The second-year student was the top scorer after leading the University of Louisville to third place in the event.

Carmen carded a two-under-par aggregate of 214 following rounds of 70, 73 and 71 to record the first individual win for Louisville for three years.

Meanwhile, the Central Aberdeenshire District Seniors, for golfers over 55, will host their annual meeting on Thursday, November 3 at 2pm.

The group hosts fixtures at Alford, Dunecht, Ellon, Huntly, Insch, Inverurie, Kemnay, Kintore, Newmachar, Oldmeldrum, Peterculter, Tarland and Westhill between May and September.