This week, Macdonald
Hotels & Resorts hosts the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge for
the 12th successive year, with the high-profile Challenge Tour
event having provided the ideal springboard for many of today's top
players, none more so than 2017 US Open champion Brooks Koepka, who
won the tournament in 2013.
Koepa's win in 2013, his fourth Challenge Tour title, saw the
American record an 18-under-par tournament total - which included a
third round 62 - and with it, his promotion straight onto The
His impressive victory in the season's second major at Erin
Hills in Wisconsin came in an event that highlighted how the SSE
Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts
has played a part in helping a whole host of players climb the
Indeed, Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood were among seven players to
have teed up in the event who not only played in the 117th US Open,
but did so sitting inside the top 40 in the world. Rafa
Cabrera-Bello, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters and
Bernd Wiesberger were the others and there are many more players
currently to the fore in the game who are connected through the SSE
Scottish Hydro Challenge.
Four others - Joost Luiten, Fabrizio Zanotti, Thorbjorn Olesen
and Ben An - are currently inside the top 100 in the world, while
the event has also been a breeding ground for four Ryder Cup
players too. Edoardo Molinari was on Colin Montgomerie's successful
side for the 2010 match in Wales before Nicolas Colsaerts helped
Europe pull of the 'Miracle at Medinah' two years later. Jamie
Donaldson was then the match-winner for Paul McGinley's team at
Gleneagles in 2014 while Koepka was part of the first US side to
taste victory in the event in eight years at Hazeltine last
The tournament was first staged in 2006 at Murcar in Aberdeen,
Englishman Sam Walker was the event's inaugural winner with an
18-under-par total in a field that included Cabrera-Bello, fellow
Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, Finn Mikko Ilonen, David Drysdale and Scott
Playing as an amateur, Richie Ramsay finished fourth when the
event moved to the Macdonald Cardrona
Hotel in 2008, shortly before he became the first British
player in close to a century to win the US Amateur Championship.
Donaldson, Luiten and Zanotti then shared fourth spot 12 months
later, when the title fell to Englishman Robert Dinwiddie with a
Others in the line-up on that occasion included Northern
Irishman Michael Hoey, who went on to win the Dunhill Links.
Dutchman Taco Remkes posted a 13-under-par aggregate to win the
event's final visit to Cardrona, where Wiesberger joined the list
of participants along with South African star Grace. English trio
James Morrison, David Horsey and Robert Rock played that year, too,
as did Cabrera-Bello.
The event's move to Macdonald Spey Valley in
Aviemore in 2009 produced a first home winner in Jamie McLeary,
who beat Molinari into second place with an eight-under total.
Molinari, of course, went on to record a notable double in the Home
of Golf the following year, winning both the Scottish Open and
Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to get a Ryder Cup wild
card from Montgomerie. Colsaerts also played in that first event in
the Highlands, as did Frenchman Julien Quesne, a subsequent
two-time European Tour winner.
Grace was back in the field in 2010, when George Murray made it
back-to-back Scottish successes as he posted a 17-under-par
aggregate in winning by four shots from Swede Magnus A Carlsson.
Just 17 at the time, Italian Matteo Manassero also teed up in that
event, as did Wiesberger, Olesen, Andrew "Beef" Johnston, Mike
Lorenzo Vera and Jorge Campillo.
It was Fleetwood's turn to join the list in 2011, when Frenchman
Edouard Dubois won on 13-under, with Grace once again in the field
and Marc Warren, too.
Walker secured his second win in the event in 2012, beating
fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield after the pair finished on
12-under over 54 holes. Hatton missed the cut on that occasion in a
field that also included An as well as Peter Uihlein, Alexander
Levy and Eddie Pepperell.
Hatton finished 10th but among those to make early exits were
Pieters and Johnston. The latter bounced back from that
disappointment in style, winning 12 months later with a
19-under-par total in a field that again included An, less than a
year before he claimed the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Another Englishman, Jack Senior, prevailed in 2015, beating
compatriot Robert Coles and Thai Prom Meesawat in a play-off after
they had tied 16-under. Others in that field included Brandon Stone
and Dean Burmester, two South Africans who have since become
European Tour winners.
The 2016 event saw James Heath set a tournament record as he
claimed the title with a 21-under 236 total. The Englishman matched
Koepka's sizzling 62 in his second round before going on to win by
two shots from Kiwi Ryan Fox. Jordan Smith, who went on to win the
Challenge Tour's Road to Oman crown, finished third in a field that
also included highly-rated Frenchman Romain Langasque.
It really is a remarkable tale of talent production, meaning the
event's 12th staging at Macdonald Spey Valley on June 29-July 2 is
well worth keeping an eye on.