The Scottish Champion of Champions, won by Stephen Gallacher, Raymond Russell and Dean Robertson before they went on to taste success on the European Tour, has been saved thanks to the help of a current leading amateur.
The traditional curtain-raiser for the domestic season has not been included on Scottish Golf’s 2018 schedule and Leven Golfing Society is no longer receiving “administrative support” from the governing body for the event.
It has been held at the Fife venue since 1970 on an invitational basis for a maximum of 48 players, with other winners including George Macgregor, Ian Hutcheon, Gordon Sherry, Lloyd Saltman and, in recent years, Ewen Ferguson and Robert MacIntyre.
“Some of our members did not want the event to proceed, primarily due to it being so early in the season and the fact it costs the club money to run, but it is taking place on 7-8 April,” said Keith Cumming, the club’s match convenor.
“The plan is to reduce the field to 30 so that some of our members can get off in between the rounds, bearing in mind that we share the course with Leven Thistle and only get every second Saturday in a season.
“The event is also changing from an invitational to an open tournament with a charge of £40, having been told that players would be more than happy to pay that for four rounds at Leven as an alternative to not having an event at all.”
Euan McIntosh, winner of last year’s Standard Life Gold Medal, a second 72-hole stroke-play event hosted by Leven Golfing Society, has played a big part in the Champion of Champions surviving.
“I really have to commend Euan for pushing to make it happen and lending as much support as possible,” added Cumming. “The Champion of Champions would be 50 years old in 2020, the same year the Gold Medal celebrates its 150th anniversary and Leven Golfing Society is 200 years old.”
Meanwhile, Duncan Stewart was unable to join Marc Warren, David Drysdale and Bradley Neil in this week’s SA Open after missing out in one of three qualifiers for the event.