Yorkshire golf: Ben Hutchinson hopes to prove a top 10 hit with aid of Champion of Champions event

Ben Hutchinson receives the Yorkshire amateur championship trophy from YUGC president Jonathan Plaxton after his victory at Moortown.
Ben Hutchinson receives the Yorkshire amateur championship trophy from YUGC president Jonathan Plaxton after his victory at Moortown.
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NEW Yorkshire champion Ben Hutchinson heads for the Champion of Champions event at Woodhall Spa on Sunday hoping to lay claim to a place among England's top 10.

The Howley Hall player currently lies 13th on the Order of Merit and has this event - when as White Rose champion he will compete with his peers from around the counties - and the North of England championship at Alwoodley to achieve his aim.

The county team member, who last weekend helped Yorkshire retain their Northern Counties League title, is enjoying his best season.

"I've had a good year to be fair, very steady, and it would be nice to get in the top 10," said Hutchinson, who is currently one of four Yorkshire players inside England's top 15.

"The Champion of Champions event counts towards the Order of Merit and then there is the North of England at Alwoodley, and hopefully I can do well in them both."

He puts a year of superb consistency down to diligent preparation during the winter.

"I think I've understood my game a bit more this year and that's why I've been a lot more consistent," he said. "Most of my scores have been around level par and that is what you need."

His consistency was underscored when he claimed the Scrutton Jug this season for the best combined score in England Golf's Brabazon and Berkshire Trophies.

He then claimed the Yorkshire title at Moortown last month when, in an event restricted to 54 holes because of a deluge ahead of the final day's play, he shot rounds of 73 72 71.

"I improved every round, which is always good," he recalled. "I was just steady. I kept it in play although I didn't putt great for the week, to be fair.

"I averaged two three-putts every round, which isn't good."

Thirty-six hole leader Nick Poppleton (Wath) and England B international Will Whiteoak (Shipley) were his main contenders coming down the stretch.

Hutchinson reacted impressively to the pressure after getting in front by parring the last eight holes.

"I thought Nick was maybe two behind me playing the last few holes, but he was actually doing better than I thought," recalled the eventual champion.

"It was Will Whiteoak, who was playing in front of me, that I was more conscious about. I think I was one ahead of him all the way round and I finished with eight straight pars, which was steady."

Moortown has proved a happy hunting ground for Hutchinson in his career, but he is at a loss to explain why.

"For some reason I always play well around Moortown," he said. "I won the Moortown Masters there last year and that summer I also qualified at Moortown for the final stages of the Open.

"It's quite a long golf course and I don't hit it very long, but you have to be straight and that is one of the strong points of my game."

Hutchinson will bring down the curtain on his summer schedule when Yorkshire head to Sandwell Park at the end of the month to compete in the English County Championship finals.

"I like being in a team environment and I'm looking forward to a good craic with the lads," he said.

Hutchinson was third out last Saturday at Lindrick in the final match of the season when Yorkshire - tied 3-3 after the foursomes with Lancashire, their only title rivals - needed to get off to a fast start.

Although Brabazon Trophy holder Jamie Bower (Meltham) slipped to defeat in the top match, Hutchinson, England men's amateur champion Dan Brown (Masham) and Hull's Steve Robins quickly put three points on the board for Darryl Berry's side, which gave them the momentum towards an 11.5-6.5 victory.

"I thought we had to get more than just a win against Lancashire, I thought we needed a good win to overcome their game points advantage," said Hutchinson.

"That was the strongest side we've had out all year and with the first few guys out it's always good to get a few points on the board."

Looking forward to Sunday's challenge in the Champion of Champions event, he added: "I have never played Woodhall Spa so I will go down Saturday for a practice round, then the competition is 36 holes on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it."

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