Pantoja goes back to the future

OLIVER  Pantoja has gone back to his roots as he prepares for a second successive Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship final.

The Manchester-based professional has been with Ashton on Mersey b for 18 months and it is the place where he grew up learning his golf.

Pantoja is set to tee off in the North West qualifier at Delamere Forest Golf Club on May 8.

And he will be aiming to secure a spot in the £78,000 final which will be staged at Little Aston Golf Club in Sutton Coldfield between July 24-27.

“I was a junior member at Ashton for a number of years and it’s where I learnt the game – it’s also where I could be found when I was playing truant from school,” said Pantoja, whose father is from Portugal.

“It’s always been a place which has been close to my  heart. When I left my last job, I was welcomed with open arms here and it was fairly local to where I was.

“I’ve laying some roots down, I know a lot of people here and it’s good to see some friendly faces.”

Pantoja’s only attempt at qualifying for the final earned him a place at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland last year.

But he hopes he will do better if he makes it to Little Aston 12 months on.

“I qualified for Ireland, but it just didn’t work out for me, the place suited me down to the earth, but my game wasn’t with me, I think I left it back in Manchester that week,” he added.

“It was a great venue which appealed to me – but I love the fact that it’s Delamere again for the qualifier this year. I won through from there last time and I feel like I can play well around there. I’d play there every week if I could, I’ll be playing a practice round there before the event so it’ll be good to get my fix in before the actual event.”

Other North West players at Delamere Forest include: Mark Smith (Stamford Golf Club); Craig Corrigan (Chili Dip Academy); Lee Rooke (Royal St. David’s Golf Club); Oliver Whiteley (Bramall Park Golf Club);   Tim Dykes  (Penrith Golf Club);  Simon Wilson (Lytham (Green Drive) Golf Club; and Ali Gray  (Ormskirk Golf Club).

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