Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Sam Walker  (Getty Images)
Sam Walker (Getty Images)
Sam Walker is in high spirits as he prepares for this title defence at the Scottish Hydro Challenge presented by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts at the beautiful Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club in the highland town of Aviemore.

The Englishman claimed his second Scottish Hydro Challenge title last year after rain forced the cancellation of the final round before Walker emerged victorious from a play-off with fellow third round leader Simon Wakefield to decide the winner.

That came after Walker won the inaugural edition of this event, now in its eight year, and the Birmingham man admits that Scotland does hold a special place in his heart.

“I don’t know whether I'm maybe half-Scottish or something but I seem to do well here wherever I play,” said the 35 year old.

“It’s a great place. You can’t say anything bad about this place, the golf course and the scenery are incredible. It’s a little bit different to last year, it’s bouncing a little bit more and that will play into certain players’ hands.

“I'm quite relaxed and I'm going to just go out there and enjoy it and take it all in. This event is a bit more special for me than other events, just because I like the place. I like where we stay and the area, and myself and a few of the lads all stick together and eat together. It’s a good atmosphere and then we come and play a great golf course.”

Walker sealed his best finish of the season in the Czech Republic two weeks ago as a final round 66 earned him a share of second place behind François Calmels of France.

Currently 18th in the Challenge Tour Rankings, he will be hoping the good memories of his win at this venue last year will give his season another timely boost as he chases one of the 15 European Tour cards on offer at the end of the Challenge Tour season.

“I would love to win this again and I'm playing well enough,” he said. “From tee to green I'm better than I was last year so it’s just down to me staying patient and holing a few putts, which you need to do out there.

“There are a lot of holes where you can pick up shots and it can be very difficult with the wind. I hope it will play into my favour and I can claim a third one.”

Every single former winner of this event is in the field this week, with Walker joined by Edouard Dubois (2011), George Murray (2010), Jamie McLeary (2009), Taco Remkes (2008) and Robert Dinwiddie (2007).

Nick Dougherty revisits the country where he claimed the biggest of his three European Tour titles, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2007, and both multiple winners on the Challenge Tour this year, François Calmels and Brooks Koepka, are in the field as they chase a third victory which would earn them automatic promotion to The European Tour.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KOEPKA, BrooksUSA18-18
T2PAVAN, AndreaITA18-15
T2TILEY, StevenENG18-15
T2AN, Byeong-hunKOR18-15
T6MADDY, PaulENG18-12
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