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Whitworth's amazing 20th title

Halifax Bradley Hall's Andy Whitworth has ended a 12-year wait to win his club's championship for an astonishing 20th time – and the 61-year-old added gloss to the accomplishment a few rounds later by claiming his 20th hole-in-one. Not content with these achievements, Whitworth - who has also had 12 runner-up finishes in total in the Scratch Cup at Bradley Hall and 13 consecutive triumphs – bagged the second albatross of his golfing career. Whitworth, a scratch golfer at 16 and who still plays off that mark, reaching a low of plus 2.3 in his pomp, burnished his already legendary status at club and union level by carding 70, 75 in the Scratch Cup to win by three shots from Andy Appleyard. He felt the twentieth win that he desired so intently might be beyond him, particularly after 2018 when a second-round countback denied him. However, the former Yorkshire county player, beaten only four times in singles encounters in 35 appearances for the White Rose, reached his goal on Father's Day and immediately his thoughts turned to his dad, Jim. “My dad passed away in 2016. He used to take me everywhere, he used to drive miles and miles for my golf. I don't know if the Scratch Cup has ever fallen on Father's Day before. But,” he reflected with a glance skywards, “I just wondered. You never know, do you?” Whitworth has been Halifax-Huddersfield Union match play champion 11 times, a record with the next best being four, as well as twice union stroke play champion, twice seniors stroke play champion and four times scratch inter-club foursomes champion, one of the latter in tandem with Neil Wilson, son of World Cup-winning footballer Ray Wilson. A level-par 70 gave him the first-round lead in this year's Scratch Cup and he says that fatigue and self-inflicted pressure combined to help add five shots to his score in the afternoon. “I've been wanting that 20th win for so long, for 12 years, and as time goes on you don't think it's ever going to come,” he said. “So I just said to myself, 'go out and play as best as you can. Take each shot as it comes and see how it goes. If you win, great, if you don't, que será, será'.” His competitors included the likes of former Halifax-Huddersfield union stroke play champion Sam Bridges and Chris Lander, a back-to-back winner of the union match play title in 2015-2016, but Whitworth – who is into his 50th year as a member at Bradley Hall – managed to fend them all off. “When I came off the 18th green there was a lad stood on the patio and I asked, 'What have I got to do?' and he said, 'What have you done?' I told him 75 and he said, 'Yeah, that will do'.” Playing partner Mick Appleyard reported Whitworth became uncharacteristically animated, indulging in a few celebratory fist pumps. “I've wanted it for so long and it was just a release,” said the man who, in 1995, was made an honorary life member of Bradley Hall in recognition of his achievements, which at that stage included a 'mere' 10 club championship victories. “I didn't think it would happen, it gets harder with time. The young lads hit it miles, they hit it so far. Sam Bridges can shoot anything round here. There's loads of them; Chris Lander, Josh Bailes, Andy Appleyard, Joe Lowson. Deep down I thought I was going to be stuck on 19.” His 20th ace, and his first in competition, came at the club's 117-yard second hole and he continued his milestone run with the second albatross of his career, at the 480-yard 16th.


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