Harrison takes sting out of rivals

SWARMING bees failed to take the sting out of Jack Harrison’s impressive golf as he cemented his grip on top spot in the Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship at Coventry Golf Club.

JACK HARRISON: Chip off the old block

JACK HARRISON: Chip off the old block

The assistant from Wildwood Golf & Country Club in  Surrey, whose dad Phil and uncles, John and Steve are all Manchester-born PGA pros, carded a second round five-under-par 68 to add to his course record equalling first day 65 to lead by five shots in the £32,500 event which is supported by FootJoy.

It proved an eventful day on the course in more ways than one with an otherwise perfect sunny day unexpectedly disrupted for a total of one hour and 20 minutes as angry bees near the 12th tee twice forced play to be suspended with the insects stinging several players and a PGA referee.

Meanwhile music lover Adam Frayne, the assistant pro from Yelverton, hit the right notes in his sparkling 66 which included an eagle and seven birdies although two bogeys denied him the course record outright.

The 34 year old is five shots adrift of Harrison – as is Old Conna’s Neil O’Briain – and former Challenge Tour player Frayne isn’t giving up on landing the £5,000 first prize just yet.

“I gave myself a target of reaching eight under today which I achieved. Yesterday I wasted so many shots so it’s nice to still have a little chance,” he said.

“I’ve been in this situation a few times and I’ll just go out and try and claw as many shots back as I can. Five shots is nothing – there are lots of birdie chances out there.”

Ireland’s O’Briain was bullish too, adding: “Jack’s five ahead of me but you never know, if you get off to a fast start you can shoot some really low scores here.”

Harrison though was unruffled by bees or fellow competitors en route to draining another six birdies to emphasise a blossoming talent which he hopes will one day carry him to the very highest level on the European Tour.

His dad, Phil, a former Tour player and director of golf at Wildwood, was among those to pass on congratulations for his first round exploits and the 23 year old was quick to praise Harrison senior for his help in knocking him into shape.

“My dad helps me a huge amount especially with the mental side of the game and course management,” said Harrison who finished runner up in this event 12 months ago.

“It’s one thing playing the game but scoring is another matter completely. Trying to get the best out of your game when you’re not playing well, that’s more important than anything and that’s where he has helped me most.”

Football was an early love for Harrison who can count England soccer legend Alan Shearer among his friends having lived next door to him in Newcastle.

“Alan plays off five, hits it miles, further than me and always lets me know that,” added Harrison who earned his Sunshine Tour card this year and has also played a number of Challenge Tour events.

Golf is very much his passion and Harrison – his granddad was goalkeeper for Wigan Athletic and Carlisle – has set himself a three year target to reach the Tour and will use the Powerade PGA Assistants’ as another stepping stone in his golfing education.

“I’ve progressed every year and it has just been a steady rise. I’ve worked really hard on my game for ages, and again my dad has told me to stay patient, keep working hard and it will come.

“I’ve tried to compete as much as I can, and play at the highest level to learn as quick as I can.

“I feel I can go a lot higher. I’m still learning, there is still room for improvement and my goal is to be on tour in three years. If it is four, five or six years, it doesn’t matter I just want to get there and these experiences help, there a lot of good players in the Powerade and it’s
nice to be competing.”

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