Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Won't Be Doing a Watson - Ian; Donaldson Admits He Needs Miracle to Be Champion at Rockliffe

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Won't Be Doing a Watson - Ian; Donaldson Admits He Needs Miracle to Be Champion at Rockliffe

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Taylor

ROCKLIFFE Hall say they want all the players in the 2010 Journal Champion of Champions to feel as if they are playing in a professional tournament.

However the winner 20 years ago, 48-year-old Ian Donaldson, is not holding out too much hope of being inspired by a professional, Tom Watson, and making a realistic challenge for the 18-hole sprint scratch classic of North East golf.

A former county strokeplay champion, Donaldson will represent Northumberland club as their champion at Rockliffe on Sunday September 5. As he plays his club golf on a Northumberland course designed by HS Colt, who created Muirfield, and James Braid, who designed Gleneagles, Donaldson may well appreciate the tender loving care that has been lavished on the pounds 70m golf resort at Rockliffe.

He was an Arcot Hall member when he won the Champions on his home course in 1990, the year after his pal Graham Pickup also chalked up a victory for Arcot on the Champions honours board.

Now playing off scratch, Donaldson has dropped only one shot from his glory days as a leading amateur, and he beat Pickup 2&1 in the Northumberland club matchplay final to earn his place in the Champions field.

Donaldson said: "I would love to be able to say what Tom Watson achieved in the Open at Turnberry last year could inspire any of the older generation among the Champions field to at least make a realistic challenge, but I am afraid that would need a miracle in my case.

"Now, I play in a club comp once a week and a few social holes now and again. Then, I was playing four times a week, mostly county golf and league matches."

Also a former member of Wideopen and Bamburgh Castle, Donaldson, a groundsman who lives in Cramlington, and was a pupil at the high school there, added: "I have some happy memories or Arcot, but I moved to Northumberland because I needed a fresh challenge.

"Three of us made the same move four years ago - Graham Pickup, Neil Macdonald and myself. Our course at Northumberland is in great condition at the moment and it's a good test of golf, challenging with bunkers coming into play at all the par fours and fives."

Some of Rockliffe's top brass, chairman Warwick Brindle and golf and events director Ian Knight, brought up in Stocksfield, played in The Journal Dream Team who beat the North Northumberland League in a challenge match at Burgham Park on Monday. Knight says: "We are doing our utmost to make every club, county and international golfer taking part in the Champions feel as if he is competing in a professional tournament."

On the day of the event, Rockliffe Hall are laying on: A Rolex clock and an official starter on the first tee for the duration of the tournament.

Ball spotters located around the course.

On-course marshals, who remain in contact with the clubhouse to keep the leaderboard up to date. …

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