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Local star Alice Hewson is hoping home comforts and the support of friends and family can power her to golfing glory this week, writes Josh Graham.
Born in Hemel Hempstead, Hewson lives and grew up a stone’s throw away from the Centurion Club, St Albans where she is gearing up for a tilt at the London leg of the Aramco Team Series on Thursday in the Ladies European Tour.
The distinctive format, which combines a team and individual competition, is made special by the opportunity provided to UK amateur golfers, who could be the lucky player to hole an event-winning putt on the LET and scoop Hewson and co valuable prize money.
“I’m very excited; this is my new home course,” said the world No. 280 who only left the amateur ranks behind in 2020.
“It feels great to be 10 minutes down the road and get my parents out to an LET event for the first time ever.
“It feels really good. It’s not an opportunity you get very often to literally play an LET event 10 minutes from home and where I’ve grown up.
“It’s really great and I’m hoping that a lot of people will be able to come out and watch.
“My family will be coming; I’ve got some friends coming so it should be a good week.
“Not at all, I don’t feel extra pressure. I love it when my parents can come.
“They haven’t been able to come to a single LET event at all since I turned pro so it will just be so great to have them here with me.”
A draft system will give amateur players the once-in-a-lifetime chance to join forces with three elite LET stars and Hewson is relishing the challenge of teaming up with a part-timer.
“It’s definitely a bit different because as much as you can, you kind of have to help them around the course a little bit, especially if they don’t know the course.
“Centurion definitely requires a little bit of local knowledge.
“So trying to give a little bit of advice like where to hit definitely adds to the mix.
“More often than not it’s just really fun to be playing alongside an amateur and it’s just someone else to have fun with.”
Hewson - who finished T10 at the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2019 - is hoping her experience can help her thrive in the unique format of the three-day event.
She said: “It’s definitely a different format but I really enjoy it.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the one last year in Saudi Arabia.
“Hopefully, we might be a bit more successful this year in the team event but I’m really looking forward to it and I’m happy with the team that I’ve got too.
“I’ve been really lucky and had some incredible opportunities over the years, especially throughout my amateur career. Stuff like Augusta National, where you are on a huge stage with 7,000 people there. It does give you a lot of experience.”
Players will duel it out for a cool $1million prize pot on the Hertfordshire fairways, with the London leg kicking off a set of five LET events sponsored by Aramco in the USA, Spain and Saudi Arabia.
The LET field will take to courses in Sotogrande (August 5 to 7), New York (October 14 to 16) and Jeddah (November 10-12), with the Jeddah event taking place just days after the Aramco Saudi Ladies International – presented by Public Investment Fund – from November 4 to 7.
Hewson reckons the prize money is a ‘huge deal’ and said: “The amount of money that we are playing for this week can completely change your season.
“One good finish all of a sudden takes the pressure off, means you can afford your caddie for the year or cover your costs for the year, so it really is a huge deal.”
Alice Hewson will compete in the Aramco Team Series – London, the first of five 2021 Ladies European Tour (LET) events sponsored by Aramco. For more information, visit aramcoteamseries.com