'Ask these gorillas to hit a soft 4-iron or chippy 6-iron from 120 yards and they'd laugh at you'
Glancing through the entries for Regional Qualifying is always a fascinating business. At Alwoodley we had a three-time European Tour winner in Pablo Martin, Harrogate’s John Parry who won the Vivendi Cup in 2010 and then there was Stiggy Hodgson, a Walker Cup team-mate of Tommy Fleetwood in 2009.
Two years later he was back on the team as the likes of Andy Sullivan, Tom Lewis, Jack Senior and co took down an American team that included none other than Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Russell Henley and Patrick Rodgers. In truth you could just list the whole of the visitors’ team.
And yet Nigel Edwards’ side won 14-12 at Royal Aberdeen.
The world of pro golf is a very different beast though with the ability to carry the ball 300-plus yards off the tee quite a big ingredient to enjoying some success. Hodgson, who measures 5’’6, isn’t someone who sends it out there and these days can be found playing his golf on the EuroPro Tour.
“I can play on the Challenge Tour but I’m choosing not to, to be honest. The style of golf on the EuroPro is better for me. It shouldn’t be that way but it is,” the 27-year-old dad-to-be explained.
“Seventy per cent of the courses you play on the Challenge Tour it is just tee it up, smash it, find it, wedge it and try and hole the putt. That’s not my game. You can hit it where you want as there’s hardly any rough.
“You are better off being 320 and in the rough than 280 down the middle which, I think, is wrong. You would play maybe one or two courses on the Challenge Tour where accuracy is at a premium off the tee, on the EuroPro that is maybe 75 per cent of the courses.”
Thankfully Alwoodley, while measuring 6,900 yards, was brown and bouncy and Hodgson was at his astounding best getting round in a new course-record 64, seven shots under par.
Having caddied in the qualifying we all came off thinking anything in the 60s would be a brilliant knock and then everyone stood there shaking their collective heads at Hodgson’s effort.
“I haven’t done Open qualifying for years, this is the first time since 2011 when I just missed out in Final Qualifying at Littlestone.
“A friend who caddied for me and my wife said I should try it this year. I had a practice round on Sunday, I had to miss the England game which I was gutted about, but that was my only previous round.
“You only get one round so you have to go for it. I like to take a chance. At the 2nd guys were hitting 6-irons off the tee but I hit driver and got it to 15 feet and horseshoed out for eagle – I’m probably as straight with the driver as I am with my 4-iron.
“I was six under after 10 holes and then had back-to-back two bogeys at 12 and 13 and finished with nine birdies. In my mind I knew what I was doing, I am normally pretty straight and my distance control is pretty good and this course sets up well for that.”
Interview continues on the next page…