Buckinghamshire’s John Newell made his dreams come true today when he was crowned England’s male handicap golfer of the year – and kept alive his hopes of a date with a star of the European Tour.
“This is absolutely crazy, I can’t believe I have actually managed to win,” said Newell, the vice-captain at Hazlemere Golf Club, after his one-shot victory in the men’s final of the Bridgestone Chase Your Dream Trophy.
He scored net 69 – three-under par – on the Bracken course at Woodhall Spa, where the final was played as part of England Golf Week, the annual celebration of the handicap game.
Now Newell and the next eight players on the leaderboard will make up teams at the Bridgestone Challenge, the English leg of the European Challenge Tour, on Wednesday, 6 September.
The other qualifiers are: Jacob Scargill (Hanging Heaton, Yorkshire) Neill Jonas (Tilgate Forest, Sussex), Kevin Madden (Walmley, Warwickshire), Michael Durkin (Hurlston Hall, Lancashire), Giles Puckle (Clandon Regis, Surrey), Sam Storey (Windlesham, Surrey), Barrie Harding (West Byfleet, Surrey) and Neil Garbutt (Masham, Yorkshire).
They’ll be joined by nine players from the women’s final, which will be played on Friday, and the best of these teams will play with a star of the European Tour at the pro-am of the British Masters, supported by Sky Sports, on Wednesday, 27 September.
“I was really, really hoping to make the top nine and squeak through, but to actually win is off the scale,” added Newell.
The 42-year-old tax consultant is an avid golfer and was highly motivated by the opportunities of the Chase Your Dream Trophy.
“I liked the title of the trophy and when I saw the ultimate goal was to play in the pro-am of the British Masters, I just had to have a go.”
Today’s round did not start as planned. After three holes the 11-handicapper was five over par and “spraying the ball all over the place.” The turning point was the par five fourth, where Newell hammered a drive down the middle, leaving himself 220 yards to the pin.
Given the circumstances he decided to go for it and was rewarded with a two-putt birdie. Shortly afterwards he chipped in for a birdie two and his round was back on track.