pro golf

June 9  2012

James weathers the storm at Slaley

MARK James will take a two shot lead into the final round of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors’ Championship after battling the elements at De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland.

The Manchester-born1999 Ryder Cup captain carded a level par 72 for a five under par total of 139, but he will face a stern challenge from defending champion Andrew Oldcorn, who conjured a magnificent three under par 69 to join Swede Anders Forsbrand on three under.

Heavy rain on Friday, which returned intermittently during Saturday’s play, had caused the Championship to be reduced to 54 holes, and it made playing conditions extremely challenging on the Hunting Course, forcing James to use all of his experience to plot his way around.

The 58 year old, chasing his first European Senior Tour title in three years, opened with a birdie on the second hole but gave that shot back with a bogey on the third. After a steady run of pars before the turn he then birdied the 11th and 13th holes to briefly move to seven under par and open up a four stroke lead over the field.

However the 18-time European Tour winner struggled with the water-affected greens on the way in and three-putted both the 14th and 18th from long range to drop back to five under par.

“It was a shame to three-putt the last, but it was so difficult out there today so 72 is a really good score,” said James. “I played reasonably. It’s so difficult hitting the ball off sodden fairways and putting off sodden greens. You don’t know what is going to happen. There is a lot of guesswork going on.

“You really are guessing how a ball is going to come off a fairway, or what it will do on a long putt. You actually don’t know what will happen.

“I found a nice dry bit on the second and felt quite confident, then I found a wet bit on the third and had a difficult chip on to a waterlogged green. It was like that all day really, so the conditions were difficult.

“I don’t think I could do much better than 72 in these conditions.”

Oldcorn completed a PGA double last year when he added the PGA Seniors Championship to the PGA Championship he won on The European Tour ten years previously and the Scot boosted his chances of defending the title with a superb round.

A bogey on the ninth, his closing hole, was the only blemish of the day for Oldcorn, who won by nine shots 12 months ago. He will start two shot behind James this time, but is firmly in contention after the lowest round of the day.

“I think that round was pretty exceptional,” said Oldcorn. “I hit it beautifully on the range, and I knew it was going to be a tough day for everybody but I played really well. I still felt as though I left a few out there.

“I took the decision to change my putter and I still missed one or two but I had 31 putts. I was disappointed to miss the six footer on the last, but overall I played great.

“I can’t do any more than I did today. I’ve put myself in a good position to retain the title. If I play as well as I did today I have got a chance. I’ve put myself right back in the tournament and it will be nice to put a bit of pressure on Mark tomorrow.”

Forsbrand, the six-time European Tour Champion, fired three birdies and two bogeys in a one under par round of 71 as he chases a maiden Senior Tour title.

Meanwhile Peter Fowler, the 2011 Senior Tour Order of Merit winner, is one shot further back on two under par 142 following a round of 70. The Australian, who celebrated his 53rd birthday today, had played 12 holes of his second round and picked up a shot on the fourth hole – his 13th – immediately after the restart, but double bogeyed the seventh to lie in fourth place.

“It was a really good start when you have been hanging around, waiting to play for so long,”  said Fowler, who had two knee operations prior to the start of the season. “I would have been happy to have kept on going yesterday but they have done a fantastic job with the course to make it playable after so much rain.

“It was a bit frustrating then after the birdie on four to double seven, which is one of the easier holes on the course. I’m happy with the way I played though – I’m not too disappointed.”

Meanwhile,  Lymm-based Andrew Murray made a blistering start to his round with a birdie on the tenth followed by an eagle on the 11th and was four under par with two holes to play, but a double bogey on the eighth meant he signed for a 71 and slipped back to a share of fifth position on one under par.

June 8 2012

James plays a waiting game

MANCHESTER-born former Ryder Cup captain James, who a shot ahead overnight, will begin his second round in the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors’ Championship alongside Anders Forsbrand and Sam Torrance at 8.50am tomorrow after heavy rain halted play.

Hard on his heels, two shots behind, will be Peter Fowler whose progress was halted by the weather after 12 holes with the tournament reduced to 54 holes at De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland.

After a level par opening round 72, the Australian began his second round on the tenth tee of the Hunting Course and birdied the 11th, 12th and 15th holes to move to three under par.

He then carded six consecutive pars before play was suspended at 10.55am
“It’s always a bit frustrating when you are going well and you have to stop,” said Fowler, who celebrates his 53rd birthday tomorrow.

“On the 11th hole I got up and down from 60 yards after two good shots, then on 12 I chipped it to three foot and on 15 I hit a nice eight iron to 15feet and hole the putt. So it was a nice start and I was playing solid. I was keen to carry on but the forecast wasn’t good.”

The 2011 European Senior Tour Order of Merit winner has had a relatively slow start to his defence of the John Jacobs Trophy compared to his sublime form of last year, with a share of 16th place in the Mallorca Senior Open his only top 20 finish so far.

That is largely due to his pre-season preparations being ruined by injury, with the 1993 BMW International Open winner only having three weeks of practice under his belt before the first Senior Tour event in Mallorca last month.

“As I was recovering from one knee operation in January the other one snapped and I had to have an op on that one too,” said Fowler. “So I’ve had a pretty poor run. The most recent one was worse than the other one ever was. It’s no problem hitting golf balls, it’s just walking.

“I didn’t play much because of the knee. I hadn’t walked a round between December and the start of the season, so fitness wise it has been a slow start.”

James take a one shot first round lead over fellow Englishman Bob Cameron, who was also due to tee off in the afternoon groups.

June 8 2102

U-RIKA! Aussie ace takes route 66 at Bolton

RIKA Batibasaga, on the trip of a lifetime playing golf in Europe after catching the eye of Chubby Chandler who invited him over here, showcased his talents by winning the 1836tour fixture at Bolton Old Links.During a visit to Australia, ISM boss Chandler and Open champion Darren Clarke were impressed when they watched the youngster ripping

RIKA

the ball it down the range.

Rika only possessed a small golf bag so Darren joked to Chubby that they needed to get him a big one with his name on so everyone knew he was.

The pair decided he was worth bringing over to Europe to play and gain experience.

And that’s precisely when Rika did when he won by three shots with a superbly crafted 66, comprising an eagle and six birdies.

Four players shared second place including Didsbury assistant Tom Murray and Eden’s Peter Richardson who broke the course record the previous week with a 64.

 

June 7 2012

James finds putting touch to lead PGA Seniors

MANCHESTER-born former Ryder Cup captain Mark James lists science fiction among his interests and admitted there was an element of the unexplained about the rediscovery of his putting stroke which catapulted him into the lead in the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.

The 58 year old revealed a superb touch on the greens to card a first round 67 to seize a

LEADER: Mark James

one stroke lead at De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland.

“I suddenly started putting well on the last day last week,” said James who last week also carded three successive 67s on his way to finishing joint runner up to Gary Wolstenholme in the Benahavis Senior Masters.

“It came out of nowhere really. Today the stroke was great. It felt simple, from three feet it felt pure, easy and rhythmical. That’s not that normal for me. It makes a huge difference to my game if I start putting well.

“I’m coming off two very bad years with the putter so it’s a good sign. I read a really good book by Bob Rotella which said if you hole putts on the putting green and miss them on the course it is mental, but if you can’t hole them on the putting green it is technical.

“That put my mind at rest that it wasn’t mental and so I know now that if I’m putting badly it’s because of my stroke.”

James is searching for his first European Senior Tour win since defeating Eamonn Darcy in a play-off in Mallorca in 2009 but Slaley Hall’s Hunting Course hasn’t always been a happy one.

“They were decent scores last week but round this course 67 is very good. I’ve not got good record around here so I need every inch out of every round,” he said.

At five under par, James is one shot clear of compatriot Bob Cameron, who also posted six birdies in his round of 68. Jeff Hall, playing in difficult drizzly afternoon conditions, sits third a stroke further back.

Cameron recorded his joint best finish of 2011 in this event last year, sharing fifth place, and is hoping for another strong performance this week.

“I’m extremely pleased to be four under after the first round,” said the 59 year old. “I nearly dropped a shot on the last but managed to hole a swinging six footer, so I’m very pleased.

Defending champion Andrew Oldcorn posted a level par 72 but the leading Scot was former Senior PGA Professional champion Peter Smith with a 70 for a share fourth alongside another PGA pro, Woodcote Park’s Wraith Grant, and four others.

Smith made a blistering start with a hat-trick of birdies from the second but bogeyed the last two holes.

“I have been struggling this year so it was nice to have a good round,” said Smith.

“I hit the ball really well tee to green and if I had a putting touch it could have been a really good score. I three putted from 10 feet on 17 and left myself with a really difficult chip on 18.”

Smith, who won the Senior PGA Professional Championship in 2011, is making a rare competitive outing this year, having decided to channel much of his energies into coaching.

“I have 18 private clients and they sign up for three months and we go and play golf,” he said.

“Most amateurs have a tough time learning how to swing a club and if they do get their game together on the driving range it is a totally different thing trying to get a ball round the course.

“I have had a career out of trying to take the game from the range to the course and that’s what I work on with my clients.

“It is about managing yourself on the course, which we have to do every day.”

Three time PGA Seniors champion Carl Mason is at level par as are Barry Lane and Gary Wolstenholme, winner of the opening two events on the European Senior Tour, and GB&I PGA Cup players Paul Wesselingh and George Ryall and America’s Tim Thelen.

June 4 2012

Lancs PGA roll out packed schedule

THE Lancashire PGA, in its first season as a self-administering body, has announced a 26-strong schedule spread across the county. And secretary Jeff Mathews has pledged to ultimately run events throughout the whole year.

“This area boasts 142 clubs with some fantastic courses ranging from links, moorland and

JEFF MATHEWS

parkland. I believe we have a lot to offer our sponsors,” said the 50-year-old 2011 PGA North Region captain who recently took over as professional at Oak Royal Golf and Country Club at Withnell, near Chorley..

“After 20 years of being run by the PGA, we are now an independent functioning body which brings us in line with other county associations.

“Our aims are to create playing opportunities for our 340-plus members, develop lasting partnerships with amateur golfers in Lancashire and to introduce as many people as possible to the game.”

Highlights of the campaign will be the 36-hole Championship at Accrington in September and the Matchplay Championship which has yet to be finalised. In addition to seven pro-ams, there are six Players’ Tour competitions, an Order of Merit, and a monthly year-long Alliance.

Former European Tour player Mathews, born in the North East but who has lived in Lancashire for more than 20 years, added: “I now have more time to devote to the county and I’m determined to succeed.”

FIXTURES

JUNE 18: Players’ Tour (Dunscar); 24: Pro-am (Darwen); 27: Players’ Tour (Darwen); 28: Pro-am (Pike Fold). JULY 6: Alliance (Fishwick Hall); 10: Pro-am (Ashton-in-Makerfield); 12: Pro-am (Hillside); 17: Players’ Tour (Leigh); 20: Alliance (Darwen). AUGUST 3: Players’ Tour (Dunscar); 17: Alliance (Pike Fold); 24: Pro-am (Nelson); 29: Pro-am (Pleasington); 31: Alliance (Rossendale). SEPTEMBER 13: Pro-am (Brookdale); 14: Alliance (NW National); 18: Players’ Tour (Oak Royal); 20: Championship (Accrington); 28: Alliance (Brookdale). OCTOBER 1: Players’ Tour (Turton); 12: Alliance (TBC); 15: Players’ Tour (Hesketh).

TBC: Lancashire PGA Matchplay Championship; Lancashire PGA Open; Overseas Pro-am. NB: Alliance events will run all year.

June 3 2012

Wolstenholme wins again

GARY Wolstenholme claimed his second European Senior Tour victory in the space of three weeks after a five under par final round of 66 was enough to see off the challenge of Mark James and Mark Mouland in a thrilling finale at the Benahavis Senior Masters.

The 2011 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year from Heysham emerged from the pack midway through a roller coaster day at La Quinta Golf and Country Club, thanks to five birdies in the space of six holes either side of the turn.

The lead was exchanged back and forth between five different players and Wolstenholme was at one point four shots behind his playing partner and former Ryder Cup Captain James.

He staged a stunning comeback, however, and finished on 13 under par to lift the third Senior Tour title of his career, coming just two weeks after emerging victorious at the season-opening Mallorca Open Senior.

Paul Wesselingh, the Westhoughton-born former Chorley and Northenden pro who’s made an impressive start to his tour career, signed off with 64 for a seven under par total and seventh place.

June 1 2012

Ross gloss leaves Lee two behind at the Manor

SOUTHPORT’S Lee Slattery was overtaken by Ross Fisher, inspired by his previous Ryder Cup success at The Celtic Manor Resort, as he opened up a two shot lead on day two of the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
Fisher, who started the tournament with a solid 70 yesterday, recovered from a bogey on his opening hole – the par five 11th – by firing six birdies in a welcome return to form.
Since helping Europe to Ryder Cup glory at this venue in 2010, the Englishman has slipped out of the world’s top 150, but is now well placed to push for a fifth European Tour victory.
After completing a sizzling 66 that put him two clear of  Slattery, Fisher said: “It’s always nice to come back to good hunting ground, familiar turf. The Ryder Cup was a great experience, I played really well that week and enjoyed it.
“There are certain spots that you think, yeah, the pin was there in The Ryder Cup, or I hit it here and holed this putt, or hit that shot from here.  You do try and remember those memories, and feed them into a positive outcome for this week.
“I have some fond memories and I’ve had some decent results here, but it’s a course that I feel should suit me.”
Fisher revealed his Ryder Cup experience had helped him to birdie the par three third today.
He explained: “I hit a nice six iron below the hole to about 12 feet, 15 feet and made that. I actually felt like I was going to hole that because I think either I had that putt or Poults had that in The Ryder Cup, so I knew exactly where I was going to hit it. There was no way I was missing that one.”
Having failed to find his best form in recent times, Fisher is hoping he can build on an impressive performance so far this week.
“Unfortunately last year was disappointing and so far this year, nothing has really happened,” he acknowledged.
“So I need to try and turn that around and hopefully this will be the start of a big summer for me.”
Slattery endured a difficult start after resuming on four under, with bogeys at the third, sixth and eighth threatening to undermine his good work on day one.
An eagle at 11, together with birdies on the ninth and 13th, helped him to recover, however, and he picked up another shot at the last to post 71.
“I think the eagle on 11 was sort of the turning point in the round,” Slattery admitted.
“The swing certainly didn’t feel as good as yesterday. I hit a lot of shots left but just managed to bounce back well.”

May 31 2012

Eagle lands McEwan top spot in Glenmuir qualifier

GRAHAM McEwan overcame a nightmare start to eagle the last at a rain-battered Hesketh and emerge top of the qualifiers for the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship.

It was the Clitheroe assistant PGA professional’s first stab at qualifying for the prestigious event but hopes of reaching the final appeared a dim prospect when he bogeyed four of the first six holes.

However, playing in easier conditions than the early starters, the 26-year-old regained his composure with a hat-trick of birdies from the eighth which put him back on track.

A further gain on 15 and his eagle, courtesy of holing a blind approach with a 45 yard lob wedge on the par five 18th, gave him a level par round 72 and one stroke victory over five players – John Fisher (Huyton & Prescot), Mark Smith (Stamford), Simon Lucas (Ashton Golf Centre), Benjamin Mallinson  (Skipton) and John Burns (Bull Bay).

McEwan and the 19 other qualifiers will all play in the Peugeot supported grand final which takes place over 72-holes at De Vere Carden Park from August 7-10 and carries a £78,000 prize fund.

“Early in the round I missed a few putts and three putted the first and 17th which wasn’t brilliant but I drove well,” said McEwan, a former Lancashire U16s player.

“On the last I drove short of the bunker but hit a really bad second shot. I played my third shot blind and didn’t actually see it go in the hole.”

A keen footballer who still plays for his local village team, McEwan admitted he was surprised to have topped the qualifier.

“It was a bit of a shock, normally you always get someone who is at least three or four under, I guess that probably should have been me if I’d putted better,” he added.

“Although I didn’t have a great start, I didn’t let my head drop and just kept trying to get the ball in a good position off the tee and then the three birdies put me right back on track.”

PGA Cup player Will Barnes (Garstang) and Jamie Garner (Sandfield) grabbed the last two qualifying spaces in a five man play-off.

The Hesketh qualifier was the last of the eight for the grand final which is being sponsored for a 20th successive time by Glenmuir.

ends

GLENMUIR PGA PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in association with Peugeot
North WestRegion Qualifier at Hesketh Golf Club, Thursday 31 May 2012

Qualifiers:

Pos.       Score                     Name                                    Represents

1             72 (lvl)                   Graham McEwan                             Clitheroe Golf Club

2=           73 (+1)  John Fisher                                         Huyton & Prescot GC

Mark Smith                                         Stamford GC

Simon Lucas                                       Ashton Golf Centre +1 F 73   £200.00

Benjamin Mallinson                        Skipton Golf Club

John Burns                                          Bull Bay Golf Club

7=           74 (+2)                  Alex Rowland                                    Hawarden Golf Club

Neil Dunroe                                        Neil Dunroe Golf

Peter Barber                                      Didsbury Golf Club

Lee Rooke                                           Vale of Llangollen

11=         75 (+3)                  Andrew Baguley                               Leigh Golf Club

Chris Sands                                         Skycaddie UK

Jonathan Cheetham                       www.1836tour.com

Rory Walsh                                         Ashton on Mersey Golf Club

Stephen Marr                                    Withington Golf Club

Trevor Newsham                             Heysham Golf Club

Graham Cox                                       Davenport Golf Club

Christopher Mathews                    Tynemouth Golf Club

19=         76 (+4)                  William Barnes                                  Garstang Country Hotel GC

Jamie Garner                                     Sandfield Golf Range

May 31 2012

Slattery stays in the groove at Celtic Manor

SOUTHPORT’S Lee Slattery followed one great performance with another at The Celtic Manor Resort to lead after the first round of the ISPS Handa Wales Open.

Three days after shooting 66 at Walton Heath to earn himself a US Open Championship debut, the 33-year-old took a one shot advantage with a four-under 67.

And if that does not sound special consider this – there were more than a dozen scores in the 80s, one in the 90s and a handful of players could not keep a 10 off their cards!

A stiff wind and fast-running conditions made life tough on the course where Europe beat America two years ago in a Ryder Cup remembered for its thrilling finish.

Slattery’s round was not without its scary moments. He was an inch from going in the water on the short third and was relieved to find his ball in bounds at the 580 yard ninth.

The hole still cost him his only dropped shot, but he added: “It was very difficult. The wind was stronger than anticipated and if you get round without a bogey it’s an amazing achievement.” Nobody did.

Slattery had already made eight trips to The European Tour Qualifying School by then, but his career turned around last October when, on his 183rd start, he captured the Bankia Madrid Masters – even with a double bogey seven on the final hole.

Now he is planning for a trip to San Francisco which will include not only his first-ever tournament there, but also a visit to Alcatraz and possibly the baseball game at which Rory McIlroy is throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

“I know Olympic Club is going to be difficult, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“It’s more the atmosphere. I remember The Open at Hoylake (his only previous Major was there in 2006) and I thrived on it.”

In-form German Marcel Siem and Dutchman Tim Sluiter share second place after rounds of 68, with Sweden’s Joel Sjöholm and Ireland’s Simon Thornton joining Spanish pair Pablo Larrazabal and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño on two under.

Styal’s David Horsey was level, Formby Hall’s Tommy Fleetwood on plus four and Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson got himself in all kinds of trouble as he signed for an 81.

May 31 2012

Sheppard leads from the front

MARK Sheppard, four shots clear at the start of the day following his opening 66 at Silloth-on-Solway, closed with a 71 at Carlisle to win the Kerr Investments Cumbria Classic.

The professional at Wrexham club Darland posted a four-under-par total to prevail by

PRIZE GUY: Mark Sheppard receives his prize from sponsor Raymond Kerr as Carlisle captain Ian Hoodless looks on

three from last year’s runner-up Graham Cox, from Davenport, and North West Golf Academy’s Steve Parry.

Sheppard was never serious threatened as he produced another solid round, trading three bogeys for as many birdies in this PGA North Region Order of Merit event.

Parry, runner-up in the Energy Services Pro-am at Cottingham last weekend, continued his fine form with a best-of-the day 67 which included an eagle two at the eighth which sat among a clutch of birdies And Cox reeled off four successive birdies from the seventh in his 68.

LEADING SCORES: 140 Steve Parry (NWGA) 73 67, Graham Cox (Davenport) 72 68; 141 Darren Pearce (Barnard Castle) 72 69; 142 Craig Corrigan (Haigh Hall) 72 70; 143 Gareth Jones (Sandiway) 73 70, William Hancock (Morecambe) 72 71, David Smith (Marriott Worsley Park) 70 73.

May 30 2012

Smith hopes to light up Lancaster’s final dream

A FORMER tobacco salesman from the north will be hoping to light up Fairhaven Golf Club’s final bid when he plays in the Virgin Atlantic PGA National Pro-Am Championship qualifier at St Annes Old Links on June 6.

FINAL BID: Andrew Lancaster

John Smith, 60, who plays off a five handicap, will team up with Fairhaven’s PGA professional Andrew Lancaster bidding for a place in the SkyCaddie and BMW supported £30,000 final which will be held at the Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort at Cancun in Mexico from December 6-7.

Lancaster is doubly determined to get there as he missed out on the final by just one shot last year to add to a string of near-misses to his name.

“When you realise how big the prize is for the winner then it’s heartbreaking to miss out by a shot like I did last year,” said Lancaster.

“You start looking back over the round to see where you dropped shots and could have turned it around.

“I’ve come close about four times now in this event and you begin to wonder when you’re going to actually make it to the final.

“But I make sure that my amateur partner knows what there is at the end of it if we win and we’ll give it our best shot. John plays off a decent handicap of five so I hope we can do it.”

In addition to a Jack Nicklaus-designed course, the Mexico venue’s impressive facilities include seven swimming pools with swim up bars and 13 restaurants while Cancun’s international reputation, including being the location of the world’s second largest barrier reef, has it earmarked as a must see destination.

Smith, who has been a member of the club for nine years, added: “Andrew’s already told me the prize at stake so I’ll try not to be a bag of nerves but I think I can cope with the pressure.”

Other players taking part at St Annes include, Stephen Bradbury and Paul Skinner (Aldersley Green), Mark Harling and John Boyle (Accrington & District), Gary Watson and Peter Terry (Keswick) and, Matthew Parsley and Paul Newton (Holywell).

The PGA National Pro-Am Championship is now its 28th competitive year with the award-winning Virgin Atlantic long haul airline sponsoring the event for the fourth successive season.

May 30 2012

Magnificent seven gunning for glory

SEVEN PGA North Region professionals aim to shine next week when they take on some of golf’s biggest names in the prestigious ISPS Handa PGA Seniors’ Championship.
The septet are Jeff Mathews (Oak Royal), Richard Green (Bramhall), Richard Masters (Baildon), Peter Barber (Didsbury), Dave Padgett (Pannal), Steve Harrison (Eden) and host pro Stephen McNally.

And they will be up against a host of star players including former Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance and Mark James and numerous past Ryder Cup players as they tee up in the £250,000 tournament at Northumberland’s De Vere Slaley Hall from June 7-10.

All bar McNally qualified for the event, which is the longest-running tournament on the European Senior Tour, after finishing in the top 20 at the Senior PGA Professional Championship at Northants County this month. McNally has been invited to play in the event.

The tournament, which will be played over the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course, remains one of the flagship events on the Senior circuit and is one of only two 72-hole championships on the Tour – the other being the Senior Open Championship.

Previous champions include Open Championship winners Max Faulkner, Kel Nagle and Peter Thomson, while Christy O’Connor lifted the PGA Seniors title no less than six times.

More recent winners competing at Slaley Hall include defending champion Andrew Oldcorn, DJ Russell, record title-winner Carl Mason and Gordon J Brand.

May 30 2012

Why Adam kicked rugby into touch

A FORMER rugby league hopeful has shown his aptitude for golf too after qualifying for the prestigious Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship.
Adam McCabe, who is a member at Frodsham, turned his back on a potential rugby

GOLF ADDICT: Adam McCabe

league career in favour of golf, which is paying dividends since going under the wing of former top amateur Gordon Sherry.
McCabe, who plays the majority of his golf north of the border and was last year named Scotland’s top second year assistant, will tee up in £32,500 championship final, in association with FootJoy, at East Sussex National course on June 13-15.
But he admits his career path could have taken a different route given his oval ball roots.
McCabe said: “My dad had strong connections with Widnes Rugby League and I played a lot of rugby league as a youngster.
“I played for Halton Hornets which was a feeder club for Widnes, while I also played rugby union and did well in that too.
“But once I started playing golf properly I got the bug and that’s what I knew I wanted to do.
“I used to live 100 yards from my local golf club in Runcorn and when I was about 16 I decided to go down that route and not rugby. I’d got my handicap down to four at this point.
“All I wanted to do was go on a university course that would allow me to play golf.”
McCabe achieved that ambition spending two years in the United States before returning to the UK to take the PGA Foundation Degree, which he has just finished, while being guided by Sherry, the 1995 British Amateur champion, for six years.
He added: “It’s a good arrangement for me because he’s an excellent coach and it gives me a chance to work with him on the business side as he wants to expand his corporate activities into England.
“Plus it allows me to be able to go down the PGA route as an assistant.
“The last five years have been big for me because I went to college in the USA where I was based in Phoenix and took a similar qualification to the PGA’s.
“I spent two years there before spending three years as a PGA assistant. I’ve just finished my final exams and should know the results in July.
“This is my last year as an assistant and yet I’d never qualified for the Powerade final.
“So this year I decided to put some pressure on myself to get there and I managed to qualify for the first time.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in the event, I’ve heard a lot about the East Sussex course and if I can do well there then it’s something else to add to my CV.”
PGA North Region competitors:

Tom Murray (Didsbury)
Ross Crowe (Westerhope)
Scott Jackson (Disley)
Lee Collinson (Myerscough College)
Andrew Scrimshaw (Close House)
Richard Robson-Crosby (Ponteland)
Matthew Harrison (Formby)
David Jones (Moss Valley)
Christopher McDonnell (Hexham)
Grant Hameron (Brookdale)
Ryan O’Neill (Penwortham)
Philip Waugh (Close House)
Lee Morrisroe (Willow Valley)
Declan Dixon (Penwortham)
Shaun Goswami (Teesside)
Matthew Swindell (Bondhay)
Ashley Lerigo (Sitwell Park)
Martyn Jobling (Parklands)
Thomas Minshull (Delamere Forest)
James Lennox (Rotherham)
Greg Hyde (Wath)

May 29 2012

Sheppard leads the way in Cumbria

 MARK Sheppard, professional at Wrexham club Darland, took advantage of the relatively calm early morning conditions to score six-under-par 66 in the first round of the Kerr Investments Cumbria Classic at Silloth-on-Solway.

His card revealed seven birdies, five on the home stretch and a lone bogey at the eighth as he led by four shots going into the second and final round at Carlisle.

Closest rival David Smith, from Manchester Marriott Worsley Park who missed the cut as the PGA North Region’s representative in last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, had a storming finish.

He picked up six shots on the last six holes, which included and eagle at the par five 14th.

Windermere’s Simon Edwards, among eight players on 72, recorded an albatross two at the 495-yard par five 17th.

“It was the luckiest shot of my life,” he admitted. “I’d hit my drive into the rough than hacked out a seven iron and the ball bounced down the fairway some 200 yards and rolled into the hole.”

May 29 2012

Richardson shatters Lancaster record

PETER Richardson shredded the course record at Lancaster with a seven-under-par 64 in the first round of the 1836tour.com before following up with a  71.

The Eden-attached professional won by three shots from Hart Common’s Steve Parry, fresh from sharing second place in the Energy Service Pro-am at Cottingham on Saturday, and Alsager’s Sam Connor.

Former England international Roger Roper, attached to Rockliffe Hall, won the senior prize with 71 as High Hall’s Reece Cranfield finished leading amateur.

Meanwhile, Didsbury assistant Tom Murray held on to his Order of Merit lead.

The Manchester-based tour stops off at Bolton Old Links on June 4.

May 29 2012

Everton score a winner with inner city project to help deprived kids

TEAM LEADERS: Everton Swingz project team including Paul Nagle (centre), Craig Thomas (second right) and Colin Montgomerie (far right).

A PGA professional has demonstrated the power of golf to engage and break down barriers in an award-winning inner city golfing project in the heart of Liverpool.

Craig Thomas teamed up with Everton Football Club and Liverpool City Council to deliver a community project aimed at connecting with youngsters in Norris Green which suffers from pockets of social deprivation.

But such has been the impact of the initial six week Swingz scheme that it has now been running for nearly a year and earned the Golf Foundation’s prestigious MacKenzie Award at its annual awards at Wentworth on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship presented by Colin Montgomerie.

Paul Nagle, social inclusion manager for Everton in the community, paid tribute to the influence of PGA professional Craig Thomas who helped launched the idea.
“The project has been fantastic, we are working in a very difficult and challenging area of the city where many didn’t have a clue what golf was,” said Nagle.
“But Craig Thomas has broken down barriers that no one else could. To get kids taking part, never mind playing, has been extraordinary.
“When we first started the golf lessons they only thing they wanted to do was play football. By the third week they were all playing golf and no-one wanted to play football.
“We are working with some of the most challenging youngsters you will ever meet. But with the golf you find they open up. They don’t want to be in gangs, deep down they just want to be normal kids and be happy. Golf has been a tool of engagement.
“We have a great partnership with Liverpool City Council, the whole thing has been fantastic that’s why something that was supposed to last six weeks is now in its 42nd week.”
The sessions initially took place in the youngsters’ own environment on two artificial football pitches, culminating in first visits to the city council’s North Golf Course.
Wolverhampton-based Thomas added: “The biggest thing is that we were putting them on an equal footing and they were learning respect and etiquette because in golf they were equal.
“And I think they responded because it was different, we made it look fun. The first few times they rode past on their bikes shouting out but then thought ‘hold on what’s going on here?’
“We had chipping into buckets, crossbar challenges, we just made it different and fun and they bought into it.
“Now we have average of 18-20 kids coming every week and Everton have kept the project going.”
Thomas is representative of the great work that many PGA professionals do in grassroots golf.
In addition to running his own academy in Wolverhampton, the 31 year old is development officer for the Cheshire County Golf Partnership development officer, lead disability coach for Staffordshire CGP and is playing a lead role in the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme which is training PGA pros to coach blind and disabled golfers.

May 28 2012

Baldwin and Slattery qualify for US Open


LANCASTRIANS Matt Baldwin and Lee Slattery booked their places in the US Open by qualifying at Walton Heath.

Alex Noren and Scot Marc Warren finished top of the pile as  Italian sensation Matteo Manassero was one of four players, including Royal Birkdale European Tour rookie Baldwin emerged from a nail-biting play-off for the final places.

Noren, who will defend his ISPS Handa Wales Open title this week, and Warren, whose afternoon round of 65 on the New Course was the lowest of the day, cruised through on nine-under0par, two shots clear of their nearest rivals.

Southport-based Slattery, Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, Finn Mikko Ilonen, South African George Coetzee and Dane Søren Kjeldsen made up the remaining automatic qualifiers on seven under.

After birdies at the first extra hole, Baldwin and Manassero were the first players to seal their places at the Olympic Club in San Francisco on June 14-17.

May 26 2012

Taylor a cut above the rest at Cottingham

BARRY Taylor finished second so often in PGA North Region Order of Merit tournaments that he was beginning to wonder if he’d ever win one.

He finally came good in the Energy Service Group Pro-am at Cottingham, the first ranking event of the season, when he held his nerve over the closing holes to prevail by a shot

WINNER: Barry Taylor

with a round of 71 for a six-under-par total.

After pocketing £5,000, the biggest cheque of his career, the 33-year-old teaching assistant at Lancashire club Houghwood said he planned to use his victory as a springboard to greater goals.

And his main target is the BMW PGA Championship which reaches its climax at Wentworth this weekend.

“I know it’s a year away but it would be a dream come true to play in it,” said Taylor who revealed that despite holding a Europro Tour card he planned to play in only six events, having made the cut in the first two.

“Competing in the North Region is more important because there are some great tournaments and with one under my belt already I believe I can win more.”

With overnight pacesetter Jonathan Cheetham, who runs his own Manchester-based tour, falling out of contention when he dropped four shots on the second hole, Taylor, who had been one behind him, set in pursuit of clubhouse leader Steve Parry.

He atoned for bogeys at the ninth and 16th with a trio of birdies, none more crucial than the one at the 17th, before signing off with a regulation par on the home green.

Taylor, runner-up in the Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales PGA Open at Mobberley earlier in the week, attributed his success to tweaking his swing.

“The trouble with this game is that form comes and goes but maybe I’ve got it right for the time being,” he added.

Parry, who runs the North West Golf Academy at Westhoughton club Hart Common, held pole position albeit for an hour or so, with a closing 68 thanks to pitching in from 40 yards for an eagle at the 17th as he completed the last six holes in six-under-par.

LEADING SCORES: 138 Barry Taylor (Houghwood) 67 71; 139 Steve Parry (NWGA) 79 68; 140 Graham Cox (Davenport) 73 67, Simon Edwards (Windermere) 72 68, Ian Ridgway (Chapel-en-le-Frith) 69 71;141 John Wells (Cherry Burton) 73 68, Rob Bundy (Lindeberg) 68 73; 142 Matthew Marsh (Hallowes) 73 69, Craig Corrigan (Haigh Hall), Mike Jones (De Vere Carden Park) 70 72; 143 James Drinkall (Allerthorpe Park) 73 70; 144 Garry Brown (Ganton) 75 69; 145 Martin Edge (Hesketh) 70 75, David Wilcok (Hindley Hall) 74 71.

May 25 2012

Cheetham clicks with 66 – but he’s not happy!  

 JONATHAN Cheetham handed in perfect set of figures to lead by a shot after the first round of the £22,000 Renewable Services Group Pro-am at Cottingham.

Yet despite compiling a serene 66 featuring half-a-dozen birdies and hitting 16 greens in regulation, he was not happy.

The Rochdale-based professional insisted that his confidence was low and that his game was nowhere near he felt it should be.

His words echoed those he uttered earlier in the week when he led after the first round of the Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales PGA Open at Mobberley.

He finished third, no mean achievement for a man who runs his own busy tour which embraces both sides of the Pennines.

Cheetham, a former Leeds Cup winner, even had a lesson from Mark Pearson at Oulton Hall on the eve of arriving in East Yorkshire for the first of 10 events which count for PGA North Region Order of Merit points.

“I asked him to straighten out my swing because I’m not always sure where my shots are going,” he admitted.

He struck several wayward ones on the testing parkland course but escaped punishment thanks to an exquisite short game.

“I was in the trees at the second hole and still managed a par. I think that was a pivotal moment because it kept me going,” added Cheetham, 45, already has one eye on the senior tour in five years’ time.

Breathing down his neck is Houghwood’s Barry Taylor, a former PGA Cup player who finished second at Mobberley. He also handed in a flawless card.

LEADING SCORES: 66 Jonathan Cheetham (1836tour.com); 67 Barry Taylor (Houghwood), 68 Rob Bundy (Lindberg); 70 Mike Jones (Carden Park), Craig Corrigan (Haigh Hall); 71 Steve Parry (NWGA), David Woodhead (Hessle), Jeff Mathews (Oak Royal), Fraser Kelley (Heworth); 72 Simon Edwards (Windermere), Gordon Townhill (Brough).

May 25 2012

Donaldson eight off the pace at Wentworth

MACCLESFIELD’S Jamie Donaldson slipped from joint second overnight into a share of 17th place after a second round 74 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Luke Donald remained in contention to defend his title with a second consecutive 68 at Wentworth Club.
The World No 2, looking to regain top spot from Rory McIlroy at the venue where he dethroned Lee Westwood 12 months ago, carded three bogeys but two of them were followed by birdies and he eagled the 12th after dropping a shot at the 11th.
There were five birdies in total, leaving Donald second – four adrift of compatriot James Morrison.
Formby Hall’s Tommy Fleetwood survived the cut but David Horsey. From Styal, and Marriott Worsley Park’s Dave Smith are on their way home.

Meanwhile, Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty and Birchwood’s Phil Archer qualified for the final two rounds of the Challenge Tour’s Telnet Trophy in Belgium.

May 24 2012

Closing eagle puts Donaldson in contention at Wentworth

A FABULOUS eagle at Wentworth’s tricky final hole helped Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson into a share of second place alongside Justin Rose and Alvaro Quiros in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship.

His five-under-par 65 also contained an eagle at the fourth plus three birdies as he led the regional charge for glory.

One ahead are David Drysdale and Peter Lawrie, the Irishman producing a magnificent bogey-free effort to start the European Tour’s flagship event, picking up five shots in the first six holes.
Drysdale had seven birdies and a solitary bogey as the pair edged one ahead of World No 10 Justin.

Styal’s David Horsey had two three putts in a 74 while Formby’s Hall’s Tommy Fleetwood was round in level.

But it was a tough European Tour and Wentworth baptism for Marriott Worsley Park’s David Smith – he dropped eight shots in a 79.

May 22 2012

Barnes stormer – and he owes it to ‘retro’ golf

 WILL Barnes went back to the future to secure his first victory of the season. The 35-year-old Garstang professional wiped out a three shot overnight deficit to clinch the Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales PGA Open at Mobberley after a closing 63.

Attached to his first round 67, it gave the former Europro Tour and PGA Cup player a four-under-par total, one stroke better than runner-up Barry Taylor, from Houghwood, who

CHAMPION: Will Barnes receives the trophy from Bathgate chief executive Mark Price

signed off with a best-of-tournament 62.

Barnes attributed his success to “retro” golf, explaining: “My distance measuring device was broken so I reverted to the previous method of referring to course markers. And it worked just as well.

“In fact, when I play in next week’s Cumbria Classic at Carlisle and Silloth-on-Solway I’ll carry on with the old school system.”

Barnes arrived at the superbly-appointed Cheshire venue full of negative vibes after failing to qualify for this weekend’s £22,500 Renewable Service Pro-am at East Yorkshire club Cottingham.

“I was so disappointed I was ready to give up the game,” he admitted. “The problem is I teach four days a week and spend the rest of the time with my family.

“I did not expect to win but I struck the ball well and picked up five birdies and a lone bogey.”

May 22 2012

Smith plays it cool over Wentworth debut

The BMW PGA Championship holds no fear for Lancashire hot-shot David Smith as he prepares to make his European Tour debut in the flagship tournament.
Smith booked his place in the €4.5m event via last year’s Titleist PGA Play-Offs, which saw the top 10 players all secure a date at Wentworth.
But 39-year-old Marriott Worsley Park-attached professional  has the distinction of being the only one of the 10 to have qualified to have

WENTWORTH-BOUND: David Smith

never played on golf’s top tier.
However, Smith, is unconcerned by the prospect as he prepares to draw on all of his tournament experience both home and abroad.
“I am really excited to be going there and looking forward to being involved in the tournament,” he said.
“I don’t feel daunted by the task. I did Tour School at the end of last year and got to the final stage and felt very comfortable in that company. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked but certainly didn’t feel overawed.
“I’ve not played Wentworth before but that does not bother me. I went down the other day and had a good look around. The stands were starting to go up and it was an opportunity to take it all in.
“I would have liked to have got nine holes in, but didn’t get the chance, so was content with walking the course. But I don’t want to be dwelling on the course.
“I was speaking with the guy who looks after my swing, who has played the Championship before, and he said ‘just don’t make too much of it’. You can be overawed so it’s just a case of turning up, going out and playing as I would normally.”
And Smith, who last year won the highly-prized De Vere Leeds Cup at Oulton Hall en route to finishing third in the PGA North Region OOM, warmed up for the championship, which will see world No 1 Luke Donald return to defend the title, by winning the American Golf Holiday’s Sawgrass Classic Pro-Am.
Smith has plenty of experience of playing Stateside, having ditched a successful career as football coach, to play on the NGA Tour alongside the likes of future major champions Zach Johnson and Ben Curtis plus USPGA Tour winner Vaughn Taylor.
“About 10 years ago I was working in Major League Soccer as a coach on a youth development programme covering Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” said Smith.
“I also worked with Columbus Crew as I was based in Cleveland. I had been there for three years and while I was there I went and played in the Cleveland amateur and finished third.
“That got me hooked again and I decided to concentrate on my golf. I quit working full-time, decided to go part time and moved down to Florida, where I spent 18 months.
“I still did some coaching with Miami Fusion but decided to play on the NGA Tour alongside the likes of Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis and Vaughn Taylor. It was a great time but when my visa ran out I had to come home.”
Since returning to Manchester, Smith been one of the most consistent players on the PGA North Region, and is now ready for the ultimate test – having set his sights high.
“I am aware a lot of players go there and the initial aim is to make the cut,”  said the former Swinton Park assistant.
“Well my aim is to be in the top 20 after two days. I think if you look to make the cut, then that’s where you’ll be at best. I like to set the bar higher and I think that’s the key to the week for me.”
May 21 2012

Jack’s the lad at Mobberley

JACK Carter gave himself a perfect platform from which to launch his Europro campaign when he set the first round pace in the Bathgate Cheshire and North Wales PGA Open at Mobberley.

The 25-year-old, attached to Harrogate club Pannal, whose most recent success was winning a North East-North West county event at Darlington resort Rockliffe Hall last season, rolled in six birdies in his three-under-par 64.

“I double bogeyed the eighth but apart from that I had a steady round,” he said.

Carter led by a shot from Hesketh assistant Martin Edge who is seeing some reward for the hard work he’s put into his game over the last few months.

“I’ve been concentrating on my fitness and putting,” he said, five threes in a row from the fifth which included a hat-trick of birdies, the highlight of his day.

Rochdale-based Jonathan Cheetham returned a 66 in his title defence then headed for the practice ground.

“I’ve played so little that I can’t trust my swing. My confidence is low but I was pro here for three years and knowing the course has helped,” he said.

His score was matched by Selby’s Marcus Maith while happy to survive the cut was host club pro and North East exile Gary Donnison, who was among 10 players on the qualifying mark 69 .

May 21 2012

Smith makes his mark ahead of Glenmuir qualifier

AN innovative professional, who has developed a scheme to attract more women into golf, will put his own game first when he tees up in a qualifier for the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship at Hesketh on May 31.

MARK SMITH: Hopes to qualify for Glenmuir final

Mark Smith, of Stamford, will be among a strong field seeking a place in the £78,000 final, held in association with Peugeot, which is being played at the De Vere Carden Park, Cheshire from August 7-10.
And, having been hit by illness on reaching his first final last year, he is hoping to have better luck second time round.
Away from the tournament he has been working hard with his club to encourage more women into the sport having been inspired while giving regular lessons to his girlfriend Clare.
Smith believes he can now take that idea and bring in more members to the Cheshire club.
“I thought if we could offer women membership with golf lessons included, then maybe we would get some interest,” he explained.
“I talked it over with the club and they agreed that we can offer membership for £300, but with 20 lessons thrown in with the club then paying me for my time.
“In a year’s time, if we look back on this and it’s been a success, then the golf club’s won.
“Golf can sometimes seem like a male dominated sport and maybe some women are put off by that but this way, they pay the membership fee, get the lessons which I hope will give them the confidence to play more. That’s what’s happened with Clare, she plays every week now and loves it.
“Instead of clubs trying to undercut each other with reduced membership fees, this is something that might encourage more ladies to take up the game.”
As part of the club’s efforts to grow the game, it is hosting an open day on May 27 to try and take the idea further.
Other players in action at Hesketh include: PGA Cup players Andrew Barnett (North Wales Golf Range) and Will Barnes (Garstang Country Hotel), Freddy Valenti (Poulton Park), Matthew Hough (Manchester Golf Club) and Jonathan Large (Formby Hall).
Glenmuir managing director, Colin Mee, said: “We’re delighted to continue our sponsorship of the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship, which as the flagship tournament for PGA members is extremely well respected and supported.
“This is our 20th year of sponsorship which signals the strength of our relationship with the PGA and the hundreds of professionals with which we’ve worked in those two decades.
“It’s very important for us as a company to give something back to our loyal trade customers and being the headline sponsor of the PGA Professional Championship is a great opportunity to show how highly we value our customers.
“The Nicklaus Course at De Vere Carden Park will be a fantastic backdrop for this year’s final in August and the selection of qualifying venues is superb, taking in some of the finest golf courses in the UK and Ireland.

ay 20 2102

Murray in hurry at Moortown

TOM Murray increased his lead in the 1836tour.com Order of Merit with a two-under 68 at Yorkshire club Moortown, an Open Championship regional qualifying venue and a course that’s undergone a dramatic change with more than 1,000 trees removed.

The Didsbury assistant also clinched the mini Order of Merit a week before it finishes and

TOM MURRAY

will  have his entry fee to the European Tour School paid for by True Temper.

Murray won by a shot from Sam Connor, from Alsager, and Ilkley’s James Hepworth on 69.

And former England international Roger roper, attached to Rockliffe Hall topped the senior section on his debut with  a 74 and Ellesmere’s Ben Chambers was leading amateur on 77.

May 20 2012

Shacklady targets Cottingham glory

PGA Cup player David Shacklady begins the defence his North Region Order of Merit crown in the first ranking event of the season at East Yorkshire club Cottingham Park this week.

But the Lancashire hot-shot from at Mossock Hall faces tough competition in the 36-hole

DAVID SHACKLADY

Renewable Service Group pro-am which starts on Friday.

Most of the region’s leading professional safely negotiated last week’s qualifying round to join the exempt players in the 44-strong field chasing a share of the £21,500 prize-fund.

Expected to be in contention is Ben Mason, from Waterfront Golf in Rotherham, who is embarking on his second season with the North Region after a decade on the European Tour.

Last years he was beaten in a play-off for the De Vere Leeds Cup at Oulton Hall by then Swinton Park assistant David Smith, who has since moved the nearby Marriott Worsley Park and is playing in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Other players expected to be in the frame are reigning Spirotech Open champion Aran Wainwright, from East Yorks; Windermere’s Simon Edwards,  and fellow PGA Cup player John Wells, from Cherry Burton.

Arriving at Cottingham in fine form will be 50-year-old North East exile Jeff Mathews, professional at Chorley club Oak Royal, who tied seventh and was the region’s highest finisher in last week’s Senior PGA Championship at Northants County.

And don’t rule out Hallowes teaching professional Mathew Marsh retaining his title which carries a £4,000 first prize.

Local interest is provided by host club professional Chris Gray, a former Leeds Cup winner, and his assistant Cobie Atkin.

NB: Full draw on pga.info (North Region Tournaments)

 

May 18 2012

It’s a dream come true says Wesselingh

PAUL Wesselingh admitted it was “a dream come true” as he created history at Northants County as the first former PGA Professional champion to win the Senior PGA Professional Championship.

The Kedleston Park pro, who started his career at Chorley then enjoyed a spell at Northende, maks  his debut in the tournament having turned 50 last year won the title by three shots as he continued his amazing start to life among the senior ranks.

Just five days after finishing second in the Mallorca Senior Open behind Gary Wolstenholme, which earned him a place in next week’s US Senior PGA Championship in Michigan, Wesselingh went one better as the six-time PGA Cup player added to his glittering CV.

A final round of  one-under-par, comprising two birdies and just one dropped shot, took him to four-under for the week and comfortably secured Wesselingh the title and winner’s cheque for £4,750 as the rest of the title challengers slipped out of contention.

“It feels like a dream come true,” he said. “I’m delighted to have won this having won the PGA Professional Championship. It’s a nice thing to have on my CV – Senior PGA Champion.

“The last two weeks have been incredible. I’d never have dreamed I’d have had two weeks like this, coming second in my first European Senior Tour event and then winning this. It’s fantastic.”

Scotland’s Garry Harvey (Kinross Golf Courses), whose round included a monster 75 foot putt at the 16th, was runner-up for the second time in his senior career, a birdie at the last making all the difference to his round of 72 as he finished the week one-under, earning him a cheque for £3,500.

The top 20 players were also able to celebrate securing an invite to next month’s £250,000 ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall.

Wesselingh lands place in US Senior PGA Championship

PAUL WESSELINGH: Great start to senior campaign

PAUL  Wesselingh’s blistering start to life in the senior ranks continues to hit new heights after he secured a place in next week’s US Senior PGA Championship.

The former Chorley and Northenden professional  earned his spot in the first senior major of the season, at Harbor Shores, Michigan, on the back of his stunning debut in the Mallorca Open Senior, where he tied second behind Gary Wolstenholme

The six-time PGA Cup player claimed one of two exemptions on offer at Mallorca, the other going to  Andrew Sherborne  of The Kendleshire. The pair will be joined in the US by the top 18 players from last year’s Senior Tour Order of Merit.

Wesselingh had further cause to celebrate after winning the Senior PGA Professional Championship at Northants County today  to cap a memorable two weeks.

He admitted he was stunned to have secured a place in the $2m USPGA tournament and was left with a massive dilemma as the championship clashed with next week’s BMW PGA Championship, which he has also qualified for via the Titleist PGA Play-Offs.

But he revealed the choice was made much easier following a chat with Australian Mike Harwood, a former PGA Champion.

“As soon as I signed my card in the tournament office on Sunday I was given a pack by an official and told ‘there you are, you’ve got into the USPGA Seniors’,” said Wesselingh.

“I asked when it was and was told ‘next week’. I replied I’m playing at Wentworth and he said ‘well you’ve got to make your mind up by midday Monday’.

“I was stunned with that and Mike Harwood, who I had just played with, had heard the conversation and took me to one side. He asked me how many times I’d played Wentworth and I told him seven. He then said ‘how well have you done?’, and I told him I made the cut once.

“He said ‘It’s a no brainer, go to the States. If you play the way you did you could be competing for it’. I also learned that any money I win there will count towards the Order of Merit, which will help give me a head start on a lot of the other players, while there’s also the experience as well.”

The late change of plan has also benefited one of Wesselingh’s three children, who will be going to the US with him.

“Ryan was going to caddy for me at Wentworth well now I’m going to take him to America with me,” said Wesselingh.

“He’s getting a nice trip but that also means the others want the same so I have had to promise them that.”

Wesselingh’s withdrawal from the BMW PGA Championship has seen Elie’s David Patrick, winner of one Scottish Region Order of Merit this season secure a late-call up to the European Tour’s flagship event.

ends

Issue date: 18 May 2012

Image of Paul Wesselingh attached for use courtesy of Jan Kruger at Getty Images…/

May 17 2012

Rooke swoops to win Cottingham qualifier

 LEE Rooke led the 37 qualifiers for the £22,000 Renewable Services Group Pro-am which is being staged at East Yorkshire club Cottingham on the May 26-27 weekend.

The Vale of Llangollen assistant racked up two eagles and four birdies in a seven-under-par 65, a bogey at the fourth hole spoiling an otherwise perfect set of figures.

Rooke, among the late starters, displaced Bolton-based Steve Parry, the 2010 PGA North Region Order of Merit winner, who had topped the leaderboard for most of the day after a 66.

A shot back was Yorkshireman Adrian Ambler, from Low Laithes, while safely through the qualifier was Cobie Atkin from the host club who was among five players on 70.

Unluckiest man in the 73-strong field was Didsbury assistant Tom Murray, son of former European Tour winner Andy, who dropped five strokes on the last hole for a 74.

After losing a ball from his tee shot, he then fired his next attempt into a pond and now faces an anxious wait as the second alternative of the five who missed out in a play-off won by Alexander Heler, from Cheshire club Malkins Bank.

LEADING SCORES: 65 Lee Rooke (Vale of Llangollen); 66 Steve Parry (North West Golf Academy); Adrian Ambler (Low Laithes); 69 Craig Corrigan (Haigh Hall), Aran Wainwright (Mid Yorks); 70 Mike Ramsden (Bondhay), Cobie Atkin (Cottingham), Simon Edwards (Windermere), Graham Cox (Davenport).

 

 

NB: Full scores on pga.info (North Region Tournaments)

May 15 2012

The future’s bright for Cheshire event

THE Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales Open could evolve into a fully-fledged PGA North Region Order of Merit tournament.More than 80 professionals from as far afield as Westerhope, Wakefield and Kirkby Lonsdale will peg up in the 36-hole event which at starts at Cheshire club Mobberley next Monday (May 21).

Regional secretary Graham Maly said: “It was upgraded to an open competition last year and judging by the entries this time I can

DEFENDING: Jon Cheetham

see it becoming more and more established as word gets around, especially about the venue which is superb. Hopefully it will become a permanent fixture and feature in our Order of Merit.”

Mobberley professional Gary Donnison agrees. “We set the standard last year and we intend to raise it even higher this time. A lot of professionals praised the condition of the course, in particular the greens, and we’re confident we can present it in a similar condition again.”

Donnison will renew acquaintances with some of his friends in his native North East including Westerhope’s Michael Nesbit, a double Order of Merit winner. The line-up contains former PGA Cup players Will Barnes, from Garstang; Houghwood’s Barry Taylor; and Andrew Barnett from North Wales Driving Range.

Meanwhile, Rochdale-based Jon Cheetham defends the title he won after a three-man play off last summer.

Sandbach-based Bathgate supply sand to some of the world’s top courses and this is their second year sponsoring the tournament.

NB: First round draw on pga.info (North Region Tournaments)

May 14 2012

Houston fixes it at Fixby

CHESTER-based European Tour player Gary Houston returned home from missing the cut in the Madeira Island Open to win the 1836tour.com fixture at Fixby with a four-under-par 67.

The former Manchester Open champion amassed six birdies which more than compensated for two bogeys as he prevailed by a shot from unattached Danny Lord.

Ex-Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst shared third place with Worksop’s Ryan brown a shot back. Meanwhile, Didsbury assistant Tom Murray leads the race to the European Tour School.Next fixture is at Moortown on Sunday.

May 13 2012

Wesselingh ties second as Wolstenholme takes honours

GARY Wolstenholme got his 2012 campaign off to a winning start with a two-stroke victory in the Mallorca Open Senior, the first event of the new European Senior Tour season.

And former Chorley and Northenden pro Paul Wesselingh finished in a three-way tie for second place on his tour debut.

Heysham-based Wolstenholme, who had the distinction of being the world’s  most capped amateur before turning professional on reaching the age of 50, claimed his second Senior Tour title with final round of 69  at Pula for an eight-under-par total.

Wesselingh, South African Chris Williams and Australia’s Mike Harwood were two strokes back.

Wolstenholme, attached to Kendal club Carus Green, immediately goes to the top of the Senior Tour Order of Merit with his winner’s cheque for €30,000 and continues an impressive level of consistency in the senior ranks which has seen him win twice and finish in the top ten 12 times in his 28 appearances since turning 50.

“Everything just clicked into place,” said Wolstenholme. “I came with no expectations so I cannot tell you how delighted I am. This is a genuine bonus.”

Wolstenholme got off to the perfect start, holing from 25 feet on the first for a birdie and while he dropped a shot on the seventh, missing from six feet for par, a run of three birdies in five holes from the ninth lifted him clear of the chasing pack. A wrong club on the 14th cost him another shot but from there he was able to par in for the title.

“It has been a good week,” he added. “This is a top class venue and it’s been a great final round. We had some wind coming from different directions and the pins were in tough places so it was hard for players to chase for score and overtake us.  But obviously this course fits my game.”

Wesselingh’s hopes took a blow with a double bogey seven on the sixth and he ended his first event since graduating from the Qualifying School in January in a three-way tie for second place with a final round of 71.

Williams made the biggest charge with six birdies en route to a four under par 67 to also shoot a 54 hole total of six under par 207, with Harwood completing the trio on that mark with a one under 70.

May 13 2012

Santos on cloud nine in Madeira

RICARDO Santos fired a stunning nine-under-par 63 on home soil in the final round of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal to claim his maiden European Tour title.

The-29 year-old delighted the home crowds as he overhauled overnight leader Carlos Del Moral and withstood the challenge of Andreas Hartø to finish four shots clear on 22-under – a record low total for the event.

Ben Parker signed off with 67 to finish 10 shots off the pace in 12th place and Matt Baldwin was one stroke back.

The Southport pair were the region’s highest placed players although Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty slip up on the home stretch to tie 33rd at eight-under as Formby Hall’s Tommy Fleetwood, who set the early mark in the fist round, closed on a disappointing minus four and 51st spot.

May 12 2012

Carlos leads and Matt keeps up the pressure

SPANIARD Carlos Del Moral surged to the top of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal leaderboard with a stunning nine-under-par 63 in the third round at Santo da Serra.

The 26 year old will take a three shot lead into the final day as he goes in search of his maiden European Tour title, thanks to an exquisite putting display which racked up nine birdies.

Royal Birkdale’s Matt Baldwin is best-placed regional player, ties 12th and five shots off the p[ace while one back is fellow Southport resident Tommy Fleetwood and Sha Hill’s Nick Dougherty who spoiled his car with two late bogeys.

Del Moral had just 20 putts in a round which ended with three consecutive birdies – plus two more putts from just off the green – to power ahead of young Swede Joakim Lagergren, who is 14 under, while Mikael Lundberg and Magnus A Carlsson, also of Sweden, Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and Englishman Oliver Wilson are another shot back at 13 under.

“It was incredible,” said Del Moral. “I putted beautifully and it gives me a lot of confidence. I had nine holes in a row – the entire front nine – with only one putt. And the ones that I missed hardly missed at all, they were so close to going in. My putting really was outstanding.

“It was tough mentally on the back nine. I have been working on my swing for a while and this is the first time I’ve been up there in a tournament and it feels like it is in place.”

May 12 2012

Wolstenholme and Wesselingh tied for lead in Mallorca

SPLASH SHOT: Wolstenholme escapes from sand

A SUPERB five-underpar 66 propelled Heysham-based Gary Wolstenholme into a share of the Mallorca Open Senior lead at six under par alongside compatriot Paul Wesselingh, the former Chorley and Northenden professional.

But the pair have a host of contenders lurking close behind following the second round of the Senior Tour’s opening event of the campaign.

Wolstenholme, who opened with a 70 at Pula  on Friday, made seven birdies over the course of an impressive showing on the Balearic Island, while Wesselingh, who, having continued the fine form that saw him seize a share of the first round lead, carded a second consecutive three under par 68 that included five birdies.

The pair take a one shot lead into tomorrow’’s final round.

Beginning the day two shots behind the overnight leaders, Wolstenholme, the 2011 Senior Tour Rookie of the Year and the world’s most-capped amateur before he turned pro, came flying out of the blocks at the José María Olazábal-designed lay-out, finding birdie at the short second after a monstrous 40-foot putt.

He added another  at the par four fourth, while a bogey five at the seventh was sandwiched between a further two birdies at the long sixth and par three eighth holes – thanks to another sizeable putt – helping him reach the turn in 33 blows.

Wolstenholme, attached to Kendal club Carus Green,  matched this total coming home, finding a further three birdies on the back nine at the 11th, 13th, and 15th holes with a second bogey of the day at the par four 17th as the 2010 Casa Serena Open Champion vies for his second Senior Tour title in Spain this week.

He said: “It’s funny how things work out, yesterday I played average and today was better. This is my first tournament here and it’s a tough course so I can’t expect miracles, but I learned a few things from the silly mistakes I made yesterday and I have been hitting great shots.”

Wesselingh, playing his first event since claiming a card for this season with a second place finish at the Qualifying School earlier this year, again produced another solid round with just two bogeys coming at the par four fifth and 16th holes while the Kedleston Park pro rolled in birdies at the second, fourth, and seventh holes on the front nine to reach the turn two under par for the day, with back-to-back birdies on the short 13th and par four 14th giving the 51-year-old a share of the lead with one round remaining.

A makeable birdie putt at 18 that would have given him outright possession of the lead failed to drop, but it was still a satisfying day for the Wesselingh,

“I played really good, very solid play I am happy how it all went,” he said. “This is the first tournament for me and I never expected to start this way, I didn’t come out with any expectations, only to finish top 30 this year.

“But I had two great draws that helped a lot, I played with DJ Russell yesterday, who was a pro in my club, and Dick Mast today, who I played two rounds with at the School, so they were great rounds that have really settled me in. I am delighted. I will look forward tomorrow, with no more expectations other than enjoy it.”

Australia’s Mike Harwood, a five time winner on The European Tour, looked to be putting the best round of the day together having reached the 16th tee at six under par, but successive bogeys at the final two par fours mean he will have to make do with a three-way tie for third place alongside Paraguay’s Angel Franco and Spain’s Juan Quiros – who both shot rounds of 68 – one shot back going into Sunday.

Andrew Sherborne of England (67) and Spain’s Manuel Moreno (70) are a further two shots back, while the other co-leaders following Friday’s first round, America’s Dick Mast and England’s David J Russell, both struggled to find the form that took them to the top of the leaderboard after the first round, matching each other with four bogeys and three birdies on the way to one over par rounds of 72.

Mast and Russell sit four off the pace alongside 2011 John Jacobs Trophy winner Peter Fowler (71) and last season’s No 2, England’s Barry Lane (69), with a fascinating day in store in tomorrow’s deciding round as the congested field contests for the €30,000 first prize.

May 11 2012

Sublime Wilson leads in Madeira

RYDER Cup player Oliver Wilson leads a European Tour event for the first time since November 2008 after a sublime seven under par 65 in the second round of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal.

And early first round pace-setters, Southport duo Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Baldwin, who both had 70s, stayed in the mix with the former four shots off the lead and latter one behind him.

Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty, playing as an invitee after losing his card last season safely survived the cut at minus four but Birchwood’s Phil Archer missed it.

Wilson, who also lost hiscard after finishing 130th in The Race to Dubai last year, showed signs he is rediscovering his best form, having not dropped a shot in two rounds at Santo da Serra to lead by one from Swedish pair Magnus A Carlsson and Joakim Lagergren, who both had two rounds of 66, and England’s Andy Sullivan, who shone with a 64.

“I played nicely,” said the 31 year old, who was in the European Team at the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla. “The fact I haven’t had a bogey for two rounds shows I’m playing solidly and sensibly.

May 11, 2012

Wesselingh shares lead on Senior Tour debut

PAUL Wesselingh, the former Chorley and Northenden professional made a flying start on his PGA European Senior Tour when she shared the first round lead in the Mallorca Open with fellow English player   David J Russell andAmerican Dick Mast.

The leading trio shot three under par rounds of 68 over the José María Olazábal-designed Pula Golf Club to lie one stroke ahead of nine players including former Ryder Cup captains Mark James, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, Senior Tour debutant Philip Walton and last year’s No 1, Peter Fowler.

The presence of the two Englishmen at the top of the leaderboard will certainly give Kedleston Park Golf Club, near Derby, plenty to cheer about as both players have been associated with the club – Wesselingh taking over from Russell as the head professional in 2001.

Westhoughton-born Wesselingh, who finished second behind at the Senior Tour Qualifying School in January, picked up  two early birdies preceding a bogey on the sixth before chipping in for an eagle three on the ninth – the only eagle of the opening day – for an outward half of 33. Nine successive pars followed for his 68.

“I was a bit shaky as this is my first event on the Senior Tour, but I played nicely and had a number of birdie chances,” he said.

Russell, whose sole title to date came in 2010, reached four under par through ten holes before bogeying the 14th while Mast, who finished third in the 2006 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry, bogeyed his penultimate hole to also drop back to three under par.

Both players had their sons caddying for them, the younger members of the family good golfers in their own right with Chris Russell a professional playing on the Tartan Tour in Scotland and Jacob Mast a useful golfer as junior at Liberty University in Virginia.

Chorley’s Denis Durnian signed for a 76.

May 10 2012

 Velasco in  charge but Southport boys are in Madeira mix

SPANIARD Alvaro Velasco stormed into the lead in the first round of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal with a superb eight under par 64 at Santo da Serra Golfe.

But hot on his heels are Southport trio Tommy Fleetwood and Ben Parker, who are two off the pace, and Matthew Baldwin who is one further back.

And Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, looked like joining the leading pack until two bogeys on the inward half left him at three-under.

d Velasco, who won the 2010 Challenge Tour Rankings, had nine birdies and a bogey to lead by two from five players – Fleetwood, Parker and Oliver Wilson, Swedes Magnus A Carlsson and Joakim Lagergren and Denmark’s Morten Orum Madsen.

Velasco, who lost his card last season after finishing 127th in The Race to Dubai, nine spots from safety, said: “I was consistent all day and I putted very well. I gave myself many good birdie chances and managed to hole a lot of them.

“If you hit it in the right spots the course is quite easy, but if you’re in the wrong place it’s easy to get in trouble.

“I had a good week in Sicily, where I was ninth, but I can’t remember the last time I made such a good start to a tournament. My putter has been working well lately and I’m feeling confident.

“I’ve played this course once before, in 2008, and I was fifth, so I have good memories of it, although this year it is playing completely differently as it is so firm and different shots are required.”

Fleetwood’s opening effort was a far cry from his first round 80 in last week’s Reale Seguros Open de España, which he admits was the worst he has played since turning professional two years ago.

“It was a pretty stress-free round today,” said the 21 year old rookie, who topped last season’s Challenge Tour Rankings. “I missed a few chances but overall I played well. I’ve been saying for a while that I’m very close to playing great, and it’s certainly nice to open with a round that isn’t 80.

“The longest putt I had for birdie all round was about four feet, so I hit it close and holed out well, but didn’t hole any long ones.

“Today the course was very much for the taking. It doesn’t get much easier than that. There were a few pins tucked away but it’s the best chance of scoring you’re going to get so it was good to take advantage.

“It’s nice to be in the mix early on. Three more rounds of 66 would be nice. My swing felt great today so I hope I can build on this over the next few days.”

Half the field for the €675,000 event is made up of Challenge Tour players, and Madsen took advantage of the increased prize fund with his fine start. The 24 year old was similarly explosive at the beginning of his last tournament, carding a 64 at the Barclays Kenya Open, only to fade away at the weekend.

May 10 2012

Fleetwood quck off the mark in Madeira

TOMMY Fleetwood came flying out of the blocks at the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal, carding a six under par 66 to take an early lead at Santo da Serra.

The young Englishman, playing his first season on The European Tour, teed off from the tenth and had birdies at the 11th, 14th, 16th, 18th, second and third and ninth to sit one clear of fellow former Lancashire Amateur champion and Southport player Matt Baldwin and Austrian HP Bacher.

It was a far cry from his opening round of 80 in last week’s Reale Seguros Open de España, which he admits was the worst he has played since turning professional two years ago.

“It was a pretty stress-free round today,” said the 21 year old. “I missed a few chances but overall I played well. I’ve been saying for a while that I’m very close to playing great, and it’s certainly nice to open with a round that isn’t 80.

“I hardly holed anything all day though so it was nice to get one rolling in at pace on the last. It makes lunch taste a bit sweeter. The longest putt I had for birdie all round was about four feet, so I hit it close and holed out well, but didn’t hole any long ones, even though I felt like I putted well.

“Today the course was very much for the taking. It doesn’t get much easier than that. There were a few pins tucked away but it’s the best chance of scoring you’re going to get so it was good to take advantage of that.

“When you are all playing well in your group it does help. It’s a momentum thing. You pull each other along and hopefully it’ll be the same tomorrow.

“It’s a great start and I couldn’t really have hoped for a better one. It’s nice to be in the mix early on. Three more rounds of 66 would be nice. My swing felt great today so I hope I can build on this over the next few days.”

Baldwin was in the same three-ball as Fleetwood and also had a productive day, carding five birdies in a blemish-free round.

“It was very solid,” he said. “It’s always nice not to have a bogey. I only made one silly mistake on the eighth but fortunately I got away with it.”

May 9 2012

Bradley and Maxwell squeeze through PGA qualifier

CHORLEY’S Mark Bradley and Tim Maxwell, from Knutsford, grabbed the last two places at Fulford to top the north east qualifier for the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship in association with Peugeot.

Winner was in-form Aran Wainwright, from Mid Yorks, who fired a five-under-par 67 as he sprinkled six birdies on his card including four in the last seven holes to win by a stroke from former PGA Cup player Graeme Bell, from Eaglescliffe.

The only blemish was a bogey on 14 but the 38-year-old was delighted with his display around the testing Yorkshire track.

“I am not playing as much because of my new role but it hasn’t seemed to have affected my form,” he said.

“I won the last pro-am I played in and was solid again today. There were no real standout moments as such, I just kept it in play, drove well and putted really nicely.”

Bradley who was on level par and Maxwell, one-over, were among the 17  who will all go through to compete in the £78,000 final at De Vere Carden Park which is played over 72-holes from August 7-10.

Beeston Fields’ Lee Clarke and Hartlepool’s Alexander Wrigley were tied third at three under.

Ashton-under-Lyne pro David Thwaites also got through after a 71.

May 9 2012

Horridge aims to put his back into senior bid after last year’s disappointment

DETERMINED: Paul Horridge

PAUL Horridge is treading carefully after a fall down a flight of stairs cost him at the Senior PGA Professional Championship last season.
The 61-year-old, who revealed that the tournament is the highlight of his year, managed one round over the fairways of Northants County before being forced to withdraw as a result of a injured back from the fall.
But a year on and the Bolton Old Links head professional is ready to play in his 11th Senior PGA Championship at Northants County for the sixth successive year between May 16-18.
The tournament, which will see Deeside’s Peter Smith back to defend the title, carries a £33,000 prize fund while the top 20 players also qualify for the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall from June 7-10.
Horridge, a huge fan of the championship, is more than ready to make up for 12 months ago.
“I’ll be hoping for better luck than last year,” he said.
“I had to withdraw after the first round of the competition after falling down some stairs and cracking my back.
“I couldn’t go on any further which was a pity as it’s the main event I play in each year.
“But I’ve yet to miss one, that’s how much I enjoy the event. It’s a tournament I wouldn’t like to miss so I’ll be back again.”
Such is his enthusiasm, he wishes there were more tournaments like the one at Northants County.
He added: “We really value the Northants County event simply because it’s a chance to see your mates from years ago.
“It’s just a good week, it’s a chance for a change of scenery and everyone I know who plays in it loves it. I’ll be going down there with maybe seven or eight friends of mine.
“That’s a big part of it. But the golf is serious as well as Northants County is a particularly difficult course. It’s very tricky.
“As the tournament goes on, you can see the cream rising to the top and once more there are some very good players taking part in this event.”
Other PGA North Region players taking part include Jack Hammond (Ormskirk), John Heggarty (Royal Liverpool), Nigel Hirst (Dewsbury), Martin Jackson (Morpeth) and former PGA National Pro-Am Championship winner David Padgett (Pannal).
May 4 2012

Senior masters Lingfield Park

A YEAR ago today Heysham’s Jack Senior was laying the foundation for his victory in the Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

This morning, seeking his maiden professional title, he held  a one-shot lead on seven-under-par after a weather-affected second-day at the Europro BGC British Masters at Lingfield Park.

Heavy rain waterlogging parts of the course delayed the start of round two but with almost six hours lost to the weather the decision was made to take the cut using the scores after round one and proceed with the top 50 and ties playing the final 36 holes.

This was to give the tournament the best possible chance of being concluded through 54 holes. Players who had carded one over par or better made the cut, equating to 58 golfers.

Not all players were able to complete their second round on Thursday so will be out at 8am on Friday to complete the round. Because of this the groups will remain the same for the Final Round, which will also tee off at 8am.

Senior, who played a pivotal role in GB&I’s Waker Cup  victory over the US last year, birdied the third, eighth, ninth and 11th to before play was suspended leaving him seven under for the tournament with seven holes to play this morning.

May 3 2012

King Louis is Golfer of the Month

TROPHY GLITTER: Louis Oosthuizen

LOUIS Oosthuzien’s heroic performance in winning the Maybank Malaysian Open, just a week after suffering a heart-breaking play-off defeat at the Masters Tournament, has earned the South African, who has a home in Altrincham, The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Award for April.

Oosthuizen battled jetlag, high humidity and a world-class field at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, in the Malaysian capital, to seal his fifth European Tour title and swiftly banish the disappointment of missing out on his second Major Championship.

The 2010 Open Champion admitted his agonising play-off defeat to American Bubba Watson at Augusta National had caused him sleepless nights, but he showed few signs of fatigue in compiling four sub-70 rounds to cruise to a three-shot victory over runner-up Stephen Gallacher of Scotland.

His €314,700 winner’s cheque, allied to the €652,080 he received for finishing runner-up at the Masters Tournament, lifted Oosthuizen to second place in The Race to Dubai behind World Number Two Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.

The Golfer of the Month panel, comprising members of the golfing media, also praised the performances of South African Branden Grace and Bernd Wiesberger.

Perhaps inspired by his friend and compatriot’s feat in Malaysia, Grace followed Oosthuizen into the winners’ enclosure at the Volvo China Open. It was Grace’s third victory of a stunning season, and moved the South African up to fourth place in The Race to Dubai.

One week later, Wiesberger made his mark on The 2012 European Tour International Schedule by claiming his maiden title at the Ballantine’s Championship, where he cruised to a five-shot victory to confirm his status as the rising star of Austrian golf.

The panel also commended the victories of American Ben Curtis at the Valero Texas Open on the US PGA Tour and Australian Scott Hend at the ISPS Honda Singapore Classic on the Asian Tour, as well as Englishman Lee Westwood’s successful title defence at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, also on the Asian Tour.

Oosthuizen follows Branden Grace (January), Paul Lawrie (February) and Rory McIlroy as monthly winners so far in 2012. All four players will join the subsequent award recipients in being considered for The 2012 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year, an award won last year by World Number One Luke Donald of England.

May 3 2012

Murray denied chance to beat dad’s record at Penwortham

DENIED: Tom Murray

TOM Murray had only one regret after leading the PGA North Region qualifier for the national Powerade Assistants’ Championship at Penwortham – if preferred lies had not been in operation he would beaten the professional course record held by his dad Andrew.

The 1989 European Open champion set the mark at the Preston course with a 64 during a pro-am which stood until alterations were made to the course four years ago.

“I was not aware of that but it would have been great to have beaten him,” said Tom after his four-under-par  65.

The 22-year-old Didsbury assistant, who has just completed his final PGA examinations, racked up five birdies which more than compensated from his lone bogey at the 11th.

He prevailed by one from in-form Ross Crowe, from North East club Westerhope who won the SkyCaddie PGA North Region Assistants’ Championship at Ilkley last month, and Disley’s Scott Jackson.

Crowe grabbed four birdies in a row from the 11th – the hole where Jackson produced the shot of the day with an eagle two.

They will join 18 other qualifiers at the £32,500 Championship final, in association with FootJoy, which is again being held at East Sussex National course on June 13-15.

DETAILS: 65 Tom Murray (Didsbury);  66 Ross Crowe (Westerhope),  Scott Jackson (Disley); 68 Lee Collinson (Myerscough College), Andrew Grimshaw (Close House), Richard Robson-Crosby (Ponteland), Matthew Harrison (Formby).

May 3 2012

“Streets” ahead at Lindrick

 PAUL Streeter  recovered from a double bogey on the first hole to card a three-under-par 68 to win the Manchester-based 1836tour.com fixture at Lindrick.

The Lincoln Golf Centre pro hit backs with birdies at two of the par three holes on the front nine and added four more on the home stretch on his way to a maiden win on the tour.

Four players tied a shot back including Didsbury assistant Tom Murray, who leads the Order of Merit, and Brookdale’s Grant Hamerton.

Tom Perry,  from Yorkshire club Abbeydale, won the amateur section with an impressive 68 with a bogey at the last.

Oak Royal’s Jeff Mathews and Shrigley Hall-based James Murphy topped the senior section on 72.

April 29

Jamie takes route 66

JAMIE Donaldson save the best to the last with a closing 66 at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea. It moved the Macclesfield-attached player several notches up the leaderboard to joint 15th on seven-under-par.

Bernd Wiesberger sealed a dominant maiden European Tour victory in style, holing a 20 foot birdie on the final hole to finish five shots clear of Richie Ramsay.

The Austrian posted  a nerveless 68 to consolidate his overnight advantage and never looked like relinquishing his stranglehold on the €2.2m event, producing a faultless display of front running.

A two-time runner-up on the European Tour in 2011, Wiesberger had played himself into pole position for his first victory with consecutive flawless rounds of 65 on Friday and Saturday, and he was steady rather than spectacular on the front nine with his only birdie on the par five fifth.

Scotsman Ramsay, who closed with an impressive 65 to claim second place, put some pressure on the 26 year old, reducing the gap to three shots with a birdie on the 16th, but Wiesberger stepped up another gear on the way in and picked up shots himself on the 15th and 16th holes before a memorable birdie on the last hole signed off a week he will never forget.

“I can’t say I wasn’t nervous on the first tee box, but when I got the first shot out there on the fairway, it was a bit of a relief,” he said.

“I was under a bit of pressure when I had to hang in there on 13 and 14, and I was able to make a couple of good shots, and great putts, and I was pleased to finish the way I did.

“That long putt on the last and the celebration reflects the last four days which were awesome, and I really enjoyed it out there today.

“I felt comfortable out there.  I thought I just had to do what I did the last couple of days, hit those greens and make two putts, and make a couple of birdies. It was key for me to do that and I hung in there.  I was very proud of how I finished the round up.”

The two-time European Challenge Tour winner, who finished on 18-under, did not drop a shot for the final 59 holes of the tournament following his double bogey on the 13th hole on Thursday.  He became the third Austrian to win on the European Tour following Markus Brier and Martin Wiegele.

April 28

Donaldson out of the running in Korea

JAMIE Donaldson, attached to Macclesfield, fell out of contention in the  Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea when a third round 73 left him on one-under-par all told and 14 shots behind  Bernd Wiesberger.

The Austrian gave himself the best possible chance of his maiden European Tour triumph  by opening up a five shot lead.

On a beautiful day at Blackstone Golf Club in Icheon, the 26 year old from Vienna – who began the day with a one-shot cushion – took full advantage of the ideal scoring conditions to stamp his authority on the tournament with a master-class in front running.

Birdies at the fourth and sixth were followed by five more in a stunning inward half of 31 which gave him his second consecutive bogey free 65, a 14 under par total of 202, and a healthy advantage over his nearest challenger Marcus Fraser of Australia, who posted a respectable 69 for the nine under par mark of 207.

England’s Oliver Fisher and Felipe Aguilar of Chile share third on eight under par 208 while European Ryder Cup veterans Miguel Angel Jiménez of Spain and Paul McGinley of Ireland share fifth on seven under par 209 but, like the rest of the field, they were mere support acts to the main Wiesberger feature.

April 27

Late birdies boost Donaldson

JAMIE Donaldson birdied the last two holes in a second round level par 72 to hoist himself into a share of 11th place in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea.

The Macclesfeild ace is five shots adrift of  Bernd Wiesberger who holds a one stroke lead at the halfway mark  after a flawless d 65, but the Austrian will be pursued by a strong chasing pack over the weekend.

Wiesberger was one of several players to take full advantage of the benign morning conditions at Blackstone Golf Club, near Seoul, as he posted seven birdies.

The 26 year old, who had two runner-up finishes on The European Tour last year, chipped in from just off the green on the 18th to move to seven under par 137, one shot clear of 2010 winner Marcus Fraser who signed for a 67.

Sweden’s Oscar Floren finished with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th holes before an eagle on the last  for a 67 to sit a further shot back, with last year’s runner-up Miguel Angel Jiménez (68) three shots off the pace on four under par in a share of fourth place alongside Englishman Anthony Wall (67) and Felipe Aguilar of Chile (69).

April 26

French without tears for Victor as Jamie slips up with last hole bogey

LATE BOGEY: Jamie Donaldson

VICTOR Dubuisson continued his excellent recent form with a four-under-par 68 to lead by two after the first round of the Ballantine’s Championship.

The Frenchman, who has finished fourth and 11th in the first two legs of The European Tour’s Far East swing, defied windy conditions and undulating greens to card eight birdies at Blackstone Golf Club.
But Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson blew his chance to go second with a bogey on the  last hole.
He’s among five players lie two shots back after signing for rounds of 70 – but only England’s Paul Casey, like Dubuisson, played in the more blustery afternoon conditions.

Donaldson, England’s Mark Foster, Korean Jung Ji-ho and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay all took advantage of more benign morning conditions to move into contention.

Dubuisson started with a bogey at the tenth, but responded with five birdies and only one further dropped shot before the turn for an outward 33.
He picked up another shot at the par five first, but had to take a penalty drop at the fourth after an errant tee shot, then fired his third over the green, chipped to ten feet and missed the bogey putt.

April 26

Liam is on the ball at PGA Tour School

THRILLED: That’s Liam Ball

ROOKIE pro Liam Ball observed the traditional golfing advice of keeping his head down in the PGA North Region Tour School west qualifier at Dunscar. And it wasn’t just to ensure he made the right connection!

The 22-year-old first year trainee at the Chilli Dip Academy at Blackrod explained: “I did it to keep dry in the atrocious weather. The rain was lashing down and if that wasn’t enough it was blowing a gale as well.

“I was lucky because conditions didn’t deteriorate until my last five holes but felt sorry for all the guys playing behind me.”

Ball posted a one-under-par 70 matched by Ian Ridgeway, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, to head the list of 27 qualifiers out of an 86-strong field.

He admitted that local knowledge also helped, having played the exposed moorland course on countless times in his amateur days, losing to his then Chorley clubmate Andy Palmer in the Bolton Championship four years ago before securing the title in 2011 at Westhoughton where he’d learned the game as a junior.

Ball, whose boss at Chilli Dip James Barr tied third on 72, added: “This was my very first PGA competition and I’m thrilled to bits that I can play in all the big North Region tournaments this season.”

The event was reduced to 18 holes with more than half the players returning to complete their rounds on the second day because of the waterlogged course. Conditions continued to deteriorate to rule put any hope of a second round.

LEADING SCORES (Par 69): 70 Liam Ball (Chilli Dip Academy), Ian Ridgeway (Chapel-en-le-Frith); 72 James Barr (Chilli Dip Academy), Stuart Runcie (Abergele); 73 Andrew Richardson (Blackpool North Shore), Michael Bardi (Rossendale DR), Joel Rodwell (Formby), Steve Higgins (Middlesbrough).  

April 26

TARGET: Phil Archer

Archer sets sights on Madeira in bid to increase merit lead

BIRCHWOOD’S Phil Archer is aiming to cement his position at the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings by continuing his fine early season form in next month’s Madeira Islands Open – Portugal.

The 40 year old won the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic in March, and has finished third and tied 11th in his other two Challenge Tour appearances of 2012 – in the Barclays Kenya Open and the Gujurat Kensville Challenge respectively.

He is more than €10,000 ahead of his compatriot Seve Benson in second place, but with a €675,000 prize fund available at Santo da Serra, Archer is acutely aware of the opportunity it presents to extend his advantage.

His only regret, however, is that the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal clashes with the Allianz Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, where he would have been the defending champion.

“It’s a shame Madeira is the same week as Brittany as it means I won’t be able to defend my title,” said Archer. “But I can’t turn down a €675,000 prize fund, so there’s no question of where I’ll be playing.

“Madeira is like a Major for the Challenge Tour players because of the much bigger purse than the majority of the other tournaments on the schedule. I’m glad to be going there in good form and at the top of the Rankings, and fingers crossed I can cement that position with another good performance.”

Archer considered giving up the game last year after a poor showing at the season-ending Apulia San Domenico Grand Final which culminated in him taking 37th spot in the Challenge Tour Rankings, but his decision to persevere has been vindicated by his resurgence this year.

“I played terribly at the Grand Final and afterwards I sat down with my wife and talked about whether to carry on or not. We decided that I should, and I went back to an old coach who I used to see during the good times. I also had some putting lessons and started a bit of fitness and it’s paying off because my results have been great.

“I’m enjoying playing again. I’m delighted with how I’ve played so far this season and hopefully I can continue in the same vein. Kenya was great and afterwards I went on holiday with the family and some friends to Wales. We stayed in a caravan by the beach. There’s no way I’m getting on a plane with two young kids!”

The Madeira Islands Open – Portugal is not a tournament where Archer has enjoyed previous success, but he is determined to buck that trend now that he is heading there as a man in form.

“I did okay a couple of years ago on Porto Santo, but I can’t remember ever doing anything special at Santo da Serra,” he added. “That said, I’ve never gone into the event playing particularly well, so I’m looking at it as an excellent opportunity.

“My confidence is sky high at the minute, so there’s no reason why I can’t go and get another good result there.”

April 24

Vale of cheers for Armitage and Bedford

MARCUS Armitage, who played amateur golf for Lancashire before moving to Yorkshire, and rookie professional Mike Bedford who represented Cheshire, share the spoils in the 1836tour.com fixture at the Vale of Llangollen with four-under-par 68.

Armitage, attached top Howley Hall, had an outrageous chip in for eagle at the second hole to kick start his round and also rolled in four birdies.

In contrast, Bramall Park’s Bedford doubled bogeyed the second before reeling off six birdies, three on each loop.

Former Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst was third on 69.

In the amateur section Joseph Madden from Royal Liverpool prevailed with 71 from and Kedlestone Park’s Paul Wesselingh won the senior section with 73 for the second week running.

The tour moves on to Lindrick, a former Ryder Cup venue, next Monday.

April 22 2012

Amazing Grace – and Baldwin finishes on a high

ROYAL Birkdale’s Matthew Baldwin, the first round leader, closed with a 67 for a 13-under-par total to tie 14th in the Volvo China Open – his best finish in this his rookie season on the European Tour.

The two-time Lancashire Amateur champion, who earned 34,438euros, trailed eight shots behind winner South African  Branden Grace who secured his third win of the year and the biggest of his career when he beat defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium by three strokes.

The 23-year-old, playing his first season on the European Tour since gaining his card at Q school last year, made the most of benign weather to maintain the three-stroke lead he held overnight.

Rounds of 67, 67, 64 and 69 gave him a 21-under total of 267 and set a record on this new links-style course, which at 7,667 yards is one of the longest on any professional circuit. Like many links courses, however, the weather is its chief defense, and on a balmy day conditions were perfect for low scores.

Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson, still seeking his maiden tour victory, tied 44th on seven-under.

April 21 2012

Grace stays in front as Baldwin slips again

BRANDEN Grace’s dream season continued as he moved into a three shot lead at the Volvo China Open with a third round 64.
But Southport’s Matthew Baldwin, the first round leader, slipped back into 29th place after a 70 left him on eight-under-par ad six shots off the pace. Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson lies 46th on minus four.

Since coming through The European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2011, Grace has won back-to-back titles on home soil and risen to sixth in The Race to Dubai.

One behind Gary Boyd and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet overnight, Grace raced clear with a brilliant eight under par round that took him to 18 under par overall at Binhai Lake.

Defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, looking to become the first player to win the event twice, is second after a 66, with Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti third on 14 under after matching Grace’s round of 64.

April 20 2012

Chinese torture for Baldwin 

SOUTHPORT’S Matthew Baldwin, the overnight leader, was knocked off his lofty perch in the Volvo China Open when a second round 73 left him in a share of 16th place on six-under-par and five shots behind France’s Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and England’s Gary Boyd.

Boyd, who has recorded two runner-up finishes during his three seasons on The European Tour, signed for a five under par 67 to reach 11 under at Binhai Lake Golf Club.

Gonnet, whose only top-three finish came during his rookie 2007 season when he was second in Sweden, was also round in 67 after six birdies and a single bogey.

They are a shot clear of South African Branden Grace, already a two-time winner on The Race to Dubai this year, with defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts in fourth on nine under par.

Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson survived the cut on minus two with nothing to spare but Formby Hall’s Tommy Fleetwood and Styal’s David Horsey missed it.

April 20 2012

Olly grabs two eagles in tour win

 OLLY Whitely, from Hillsborough, fired a five-under-par 67 win the 1863tour.com fixture at St Annes Old Links.

His round included two eagles at the sixth and 18th plus birdies at the 5,10, and 17.

Joint second a shot off the pace were new Order of Merit leader Tom Murray, from Didsbury; Abbeydale’s Gareth Davies;  Matt Evans, from Rotherham, and Keddlestone Park’s Paul Wesselingh, who also claimed the senior prize.

James Hornsby, from Heswall, won the amateur section with 70.

Next up is Vale of Llangollen on Monday.

April 19 2012

Lancashire lad Baldwin leads in China Open

SOUTHPORT’S   Matthew Baldwin shot a seven-under-par 65 to hold a one shot clubhouse lead at the Volvo China Open. The 26-year-old Challenge Tour graduate’s effort saw him move a shot clear of compatriot Gary Boyd, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Australian Scott Strange, France’s Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Swede Fredrik Andersson-Hed Binhai Lake as he looks to build on a

MATTHEW BALDWIN

commendable start to his rookie European Tour campaign.
Baldwin, twice winner of the Lancashire Amateur Championship, recorded a top 10 finish at the Africa Open, came 17th in Morocco, as well as making the cut in Sicily and Andalucía.
Birdies at the first, fifth, seventh and ninth saw him turn in 32 before further gains at the tenth, 11th and 17th, the last coming after an approach to six feet.
“It was very good today so I am happy with that,” he said.
“I just tried to keep everything as simple as I could. My caddie and I set out this morning with a game play of trying to make 18 pars and take our chances when they came, and it turned out to be one of those days where there were a lot of chances and I managed to take a few of them.”

April 18 2012

Cheshire pro putting on the style

 CRANFORD Driving Range professional Lee Sullivan is giving local players an edge by delivering quick results for a rapid improvement in putting fortunes.

And the innovative Sullivan has also set up a designated website 18putts.com to help spread the word and enable golfers to learn more about his services and lessons.

“I want golfers to understand the importance of putting – as I know from experience this will help them to really improve their scores and at a much faster rate than taking dozens of full-swing lessons,” said Stockport-based Sullivan.

“With my Frankly Certified Putting Instructor qualification, I now have the added confidence that I can help golfers of all skills level to improve.

“I want to get golfers excited about walking onto a green with the opportunity for them to hole putts whatever the distance and for them to understand that there are “no limits” to how good a putter they can become.”

Frank Thomas of Frankly Academies in Reunion, Florida, and originator of the CPI programme, hailed the efforts of Sullivan.

“Putting is the most important part of the game and is the area that we can see the fastest improvement for a golfer,” he said.

“Congratulations to Lee on becoming part of our growing Certified Putting Instructor network and helping golfers get better faster.”

The Frankly Certified Putting Instructor course is being used by seven PGAs across the globe and more than 300 have either qualified or are part the way through the course.

The Certified Putting Instructor Course was developed in co-operation with the PGA and upon completion professionals receive continuing education credit.

April 16 2012

Shacklady in 11 birdie romp

 DAVID Shacklady fired an early warning shot at his PGA North Region rivals when he won the last of six fixtures in the Mansell Finishes Winter Series with a blistering 10-under-par 62 at St Annes Old Links.

It also earned him a double bonus as he claimed the Order of Merit crown as well.

The Mossock Hall maestro, top points score when GB&I lost to the United States in the PGA Cup in California last year, harvested 11 birdies as he strung together three in a row from the fifth and four from the 12.

Shacklady, who won the region’s order of Merit for the second time last year, blotted his card with a lone bogey at the third as he finished four strokes ahead of Stamford’s Mark Smith.

April 13 2012

Jack the lad at Tour qualifier

 HEYSHAM’S Jack Senior earned a 888poker.com PGA Europro Tour Card at his attempt when he finished runner-up in the final qualifier ar Frilford Heath.

The star of the GB&I side that beat the United States in Walker Cup last year signed off with a 70 for a 14-under-par three round total, four shots behind local-based Tyrrell Hatton with who he’d shared the overnight lead.

Pleasington’s Jack Brooks, a former Lancashire County team-mate of Senior, closed with 76 for seven over and tied 102nd.

April 13 2012

Captain Mark’s on a mission

Mark Harling

LANCASHIRE captain Mark Harling has vowed to follow in the spike marks of his predecessor Dave Smith and attend the county’s major amateur tournaments.

“He took an interest in promising players and saw quite a few of them last season,” said the professional at Accrington where Marriott Worsley Park-attached Smith won the county championship last year.

“I’m planning to spend some time at the Lytham Trophy next month because it’s a great event to watch. I played in it a few times and I remember holing in one on the ninth.”

Harling, 44, will throw his weight behind helping Lancashire PGA expand its fixture list with the body now self-administering.

“It’s a challenge but we’re determined to raise our profile,” he said.

Chip-off-the-old-block Harling worked as an assistant for his dad Bill before taking over from him when he retired nine years ago.

Bill, a Master Professional who coached at the PGA Training Academy at the Belfry for many years, still pops into the club.

“He uses my workshop for refresher courses,” said Harling.

And no doubt Bill is delighted that Mark’s four sons all play golf.

Jamie, the eldest at 20, is an assistant green keeper at Accrington and has a six handicap; Aiden, 19, plays off 12; Elliott, 16, is ranked nine and Paddy, 14, is useful off 12.

“He’s the most promising of them all,” added Harling.

April 12 2012

Senior’s a six hit in Europro Tour qualifier

HEYSHAM bit hitter Jack Senior, the former Walker Cup ace and Lancashire County player, and Harleyford’s  Tyrrell Hatton  are tied for the lead six shots ahead of the field after the second round of play at the final stage of Qualifying School for the 2012 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour.

Hatton hit three birdies on the last four holes at Frilford Heath to card a 65 but the 20-year-old

FIVE BIRDIES: Jack Senior

from Marlow could have held an outright lead had he not double-bogeyed the par-three 16th. Senior matched his opening day’s score of six under with five birdies on his front nine to join Hatton at the top of the leaderboard.

Paul Cutler (Portstewart) moved into contention with six birdies on the back nine taking his score to six under, a five-shot improvement on his overnight card and he is now tied for third with John Gallagher (Swanston).

Overnight leader Tommy King (Red Golf Management) suffered with double bogeys on the third and 18th to finish his round three over, leaving him tied for fifth with Ruaidhri McGee (Golfhub), Mark Smith (Erewash Valley Golf Club) and Nick Pateman (Red Golf Management) on five under.

Pleasington’s Jack Brooks just survived the cut.

April 12 2012

Ross has plenty to “crowe” about

WESTERHOPE rookie Ross Crowe is probably used to having his leg pulled about birdies. But the three he shot in the Skycaddie PGA North Region Assistants’ Championship at Ilkley were priceless as he won his first title since joining the pro ranks last September.

And the 24-year-old former Northumberland County player  (pictured) achieved it the hard way though a sudden death play-off after his level par 69 was matched by two others.

He kept his composure to prevail at the first extra hole with a par to beat Bradford’s James Sibbles while the third man in the group, Graham Neville, failed to arrive at the tee on time.

The Mere assistant had returned to his Manchester home thinking he’d no chance of winning then got stuck in a traffic trying to get back to the course.

Crowe, meanwhile, is hoping his victory will serve as a springboard to more success this year but he admits his priority is to study for his PGA exams.

“I might try for the EuroPro next season but that will depend on how my training is going,” he said.

His mentor is Westerhope boss Mike Nesbit, a double winner of the now defunct Northern Rock Tournament and PGA North Region Order of Merit.

LEADING SCORES (Par 69): 69 – Ross Crowe (Westerhope); Graham Neville (Mere), James Sibbles (Bradford). Crowe won play-off at 1st extra hole); 70

– Lee Shepherd (Letters Golf Academy), Curtis Dean (Hesketh), Charlie Beavers (St Annes Old Links), Daniel Hood (York).

April 12 2012

Pyman delivers the goods

 IAIN Pyman, a former Amateur Champion, won the latest 1836tour.com event at Sandiway with a four-under-par 66.

The Sand Moor man reeled off six birdies, four on the outward half, to win by two shots from Chester-based former European Tour player Gary Houston, Whitefield pro Colin Maroney and Rotherham’s Matt Evans.

The next event at St Annes Old Links on April 19 has already attracted a 90-strong field.

April 7 2012

Parry’s back-to-back victories

STEVE Parry followed up his victory in the Manchester Alliance at Chorley the previous day when he won the 1836tour.com fixture at Conwy.

The Hart Common professional Steve Parry grabbed an eagle and four birdies in a four-under-par 68, one better that Sheffield’s Gareth Davies.

Alsager’s Sam Connor  moved top of the Order of Merit as Keddleston Park’s Paul Wesselingh shared the spoils with Baildon’s Richard Masters in the senior section with 75.

Next event is at at  Sandiway on Tuesday.

April 1 2012

Archer third as Benson triumphs

ENGLAND’S Seve Benson claimed the third Challenge Tour title of his career after he saw off Denmark’s Lasse Jensen in a play-off for the Barclays Kenya Open. Benson birdied the 18th in regulation play to tie with Jensen on 10-under-par at Muthaiga in Nairobi, and he did the same again at the first extra hole while Jensen could only manage a bogey.

Birchwood’s Phil Archer, with one win under his belt this season finished in a share of third place, two off the pace, after a 65.But Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty closed with a 75, some 13 shots off the pace.

Meanwhile, Macclesfield’s Jamie Donaldson continued in free fall to finish 63rd out of a final field of 65 in Sicilian Open in which he shared the half-way lead.

Thorbjørn Olesen held on for a first European Tour victory despite a gallant challenge from Chris Wood, who equalled the Verdura Golf Resort & Spa course record.

March 31 2012

Donaldson blows his chance

JAMIE Donaldson, joint overnight leader, was blown off course in the third round of the wind-swept Sicilian Open where he dropped eight shots in the last 11 holes to post 80 and  tumble into 36th place on level par.

That left the  Macclesfield man, still seeking his maiden European Tour victory, 12 strokes behind. Thorbjørn Olesen has a golden opportunity to break his duck after a brilliant round of 67,

With just five shots separating the 65 players who made the cut, ‘moving day’ was always going to be significant at Verdura Golf Resort & Spa near Sciacca, Sicily, and so it proved as 22 year old Olesen moved into a three shot lead.

The Dane had three runner-up finishes in his rookie campaign last season, but is in prime position to go one better after following a bogey at the sixth hole with four birdies and an eagle at the long 14th hole.

Only 18 players were able to break par in the third round, and Olesen’s best-of-the-day round was matched only by Canadian Andrew Parr, who shares second place with big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

At one point, the wind was so strong that Olesen’s hat blew off, but he defied the blustery conditions to birdie the 18th hole – the scourge of plenty of players this week.

Meanwhile, Birchwood’s Phil Archer with one win on the Challenge Tour already under his belt, carded a third round 69 in the Barclays Kenya Open to share 13th place with a group of players which included Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty who had a 70.

They are six shots adrift of the pace.

March 30 2012

Donaldson boosts hopes of maiden Tour win

MACCLESFIELD’S Jamie Donaldson boosted his hopes of a first European Tour title at the 249th time of asking ash he moved into a share of the half-way lead in the second round of the Sicilian Open.

The 36-year-old former Cheshire County player, whose third-place finish in Morocco last week was his 32nd top 10 on the European Tour, added a 71 to his opening 65 to reach eight under par at Verdura Golf Resort & Spa.
It could have been even better for Donaldson, who led for long spells of the morning session but bogeyed the ninth, his last.
That came after he mixed three bogeys with as many birdies on his outward nine, picking up shots on the sixth from 10 feet and another at the par five seventh.
Donaldson’s error at the end left him level with Swede Pelle Edberg, Dutchman Maarten Lafeber, overnight leader Paul Lawrie and English pair David Lynn and Simon Wakefield.

Meanwhile, Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty had a mixed bag of bogeys and birdies to record his second successive 70 in the Barclays Kenya Open in Nairobi for a two-under-par aggregate and four shots adrift of Dane Morten Orum Madsen.

March 29 2012

Honours shared at Hesketh

YORKSHIRE duo Iain Pyman and Olly Whiteley shared the spoils in the 1836tour.com fixture at Hesketh with five-under-par 67.

A shot back was former  former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker. Whiteley produced a flawless round containing five birdies while 1993 Amateur champion Pyman collected eight.

Meanwhile, Whiteley who also tied first at Stockport earlier in the week, leads the Order of Merit by 35 points from Didsbury assistant Tom Murray.

March 27 2012

Scott stays on a roll as he shares spoils on 1836tour.com at Stockport

SIX BIRDIES: Scott Jackson

 DISLEY professional Scott Jackson followed up his victory in the Manchester Alliance at Swinton Park last week when he tied first in the 1836tour.com pro-am at Stockport with Hillsborough’s Olly Whiteley on five-under-par 66. With temperatures soaring, Scott rolled in six birdies and Olly seven and both picked up a shot at the last hole and they finished a stroke ahead of De Vere Mottram Hall’s Jamie Haworth.

Bolton’s Ian Gregory, on his tour debut, joined forces with four handicapper Mick Schofield to post an 11- under 60 to pip former Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst and his partner Mick Dunn by one.Meanwhile, Craig Corrigan Haigh Hall teaching pro Craig Corrigan thought he’d overshot the 15th green at in the tour’s opening event at West Lancs until he was told his ball was in the hole!

And the eagle helped him to a four-under-par 68 and a share of first place alongside Hart Common’s Steve Parry and Alsager’s Sam Connor. Kedleston Park’s Paul Wesselingh won the senior section with 72. The action moves to Hesketh on Thursday where .

March 22 2012

Confident Horsey mounts title defence in Morocco

MANCHESTER’S David Horsey believed he can run into form just in time to retain his Trophée Hassan II title when the action started today.

The 26-year-old Styal tournament professional captured his second European Tour title at Golf du Palais Royal, but he has not had a top 10 finish since September’s KLM Open.
But Horsey is confident he can mount a strong title defence at the venue where he overcame 2010 winner Rhys Davies and Jaco Van Zyl in a play-off 12 months ago.
“It’s great to be back and obviously I have a lot of good memories of winning the tournament here last year,” he said.
“I played very well throughout the week last year apart from the very end when I tried to throw the tournament away a couple of times but thankfully I came through the play-off and managed to get the job done.
“My game feels like it is very close now and I would say that I am 90-95 per cent happy with everything now. I made a lot of changes this year, switching to Callaway clubs and I am now really getting used to the new clubs and equipment and I am ready to go.”
Golf du Palais Royal sits in the grounds of the Royal Palace of Agadir, and Horsey admits the exclusive nature of the venue adds to the tournaments excitement.
“It is a real privilege to be invited into the King’s back garden to have a whack round so to speak,” he added. “It wouldn’t be so bad to have that golf course in your back garden back home would it? We are very, very privileged to be invited to play here and once again the course is in fantastic condition so I am looking forward to the week ahead.
“The course is so perfect that there are points when you are playing this course that you almost feel embarrassed to take a divot out of the grass!
“The trophy, or the sword, that I won last year brought up some interesting questions from customs officials in Gatwick but I had all of the relevant paperwork in order to get it through there so I managed to get it home and it now takes pride of place on my mantelpiece back home. It would be very nice to add another one to the collection this week.”

March 18 2012

Ex-PGA captain Mathews appointed  Oak Royal’s first  professional

FIRST PRO: Mathews is welcomed to Oak Royal by manager Caroline Downes

OAK Royal Golf and Country Club has appointed Jeff Mathews as its first full-time professional. The 50-year-old former captain of the PGA North Region comes with an impressive record as player and coach, winning won more than 100 events since joining the paid ranks as an assistant at his native North East club Wallsend.

He progressed to Bedlingtonshire as head professional then migrated to the Blackburn area more than 20 years ago, almost single-handedly building his own driving range and par three course near Samlesbury Hall which later sold.

Following a spell as pro at Mytton Hall Golf Club, Mathews admitted that he could not afford to turn down the opportunity at Oak Royal, a testing nine-hole course situated at Withnell on the outskirts of Chorley and Blackburn.

“It’s an ambitious club which has made tremendous strides since it opened less than five years ago,” he said. “The facilities are always being upgraded and the spacious clubhouse, which includes a pro shop, will soon have a hotel attached to it.

“My son George is junior captain so I’ve been familiar with the set-up for some time. He’s studying at Myerscough College and hopes to become a professional like his elder brother Chris who is based in the North East.”

Mathews, who is also Lancashire PGA secretary, is a former winner of the county matchplay championship and Order of Merit.

He is still highly competitive and will try to win his European Senior Tour card next year, having narrowly failed two months ago.

“If I succeed it won’t interfere with my role at Oak Royal because there are only a limited number of fixtures,” he explained

March 14 2012

Broadhurst and Winstanley hit birdie trail to tie at Fairhaven

STILL IN THE GROOVE : Paul Broadhurst

FORMER Ryder Cup star Paul Broadhurst won his second event of the year on the 1836tour.com at Fairhaven but this time he had to share the spoils with Warrington’s Ian Winstanley after posting eight-under-par 65.

The six-time European Tour winner got off to a flying start with eagles at the first and third holes then added five birdies.

Winstanley, who won the Cheshire County Championship in 2010 before joining the paid ranks, reeled off 10 birdies and he and Broadhurst finished two shots head of the 44-strong pro-am field.

The tour  by former Manchester Open and Leeds Cup winner Jon Cheetham pegs up for the new campaign and West Lancs next week and has guaranteed a £2,000 first prize.

The event has attracted a strong line-up which includes Broadhurst, another former Ryder Cup man Peter Baker, and ex-Chorley and Northenden pro and reigning 1836tour.com Order of Merit winner Paul Wesselingh.

Meanwhile, the leading player after the Lancaster fixture on May 28 will have his European Tour School entry fee paid for by True Temper and the top eight Open Championship fees.

All told, 22 events are scheduled plus more for September including a Tour Championship.

March 12 2012

Archer hits target as Dougherty falters

PRIZE GUY: Phil Archer

BIRCHWOOD’S Phillip Archer claimed claimed North West bragging rights over Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty when he won third Challenge Tour title of his career after he held his nerve and holed a tricky four-foot putt in the inaugural Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic with a two under par round of 70.

The Warrington man was two shots clear at one point during an enthralling final day at Country Club de Barranquilla in Colombia but superb performances down the stretch from young guns Chris Lloyd and Morten Orum Madsen meant Archer had to birdie a final hole on which he had failed to gain a shot all week to avoid a play-off.

When Archer drove into the rough to the left on the par five 18th, the 39 year old knew he would have to do it the hard way, but his second shot nestled just shy of the green before a solid up and down sealed what he claimed was his “best win yet”.

“I was thinking when I stood over the putt that the hole owed me something because I had two fives and a six there before that,” explained Archer. “I had pulled my drive into a similar position where I was the last three days. I caught a half-decent lie this time though and had a full swing so I was able to get something on it and managed to nudge it to the front edge.

“I was quite comfortable standing over the final putt though. I went through my full routine which I had done all the way around and luckily I holed it.”

Having started the day one shot off the lead held by Nick Dougherty, Archer kept it steady on the front nine with a sublime approach to the second green earning him a simple tap-in for birdie.

He exchanged a birdie and bogey at the seventh and eighth holes to reach the turn in one under and, with Dougherty having dropped back after an opening double-bogey and their playing partner Tyrrell Hatton struggling to a five over par front nine, Archer darted into the lead with a birdie on the 11th.

He dropped a shot on the 13th, however, while Lloyd and Madsen both picked up two birdies each in the final four holes to go into the clubhouse on seven under and pile the pressure on Archer.

But Archer made his experience count and was delighted with the win, which moved him to the top of the Challenge Tour rankings on €33,946.

“Wins are always good,” he said. “It just shows you’ve concentrated for the whole way around and I just eked ahead of everyone. I knew a birdie would win it on the final hole and I had never actually holed a putt to win a title. I’ve never had that feeling so that was a really nice feeling and one that I’d like to have a few more times.”

Lloyd, meanwhile, was disappointed not to have been able to take it to a play-off after a superb five under par final round of 67, which included no less than seven birdies and earned him tied second spot with Madsen.

But the ambitious 20 year old admitted that it will only make him keener to claim that maiden Challenge Tour victory.

“Obviously I’m disappointed that it didn’t go to a play-off,” said the Bristol man. “But I was nine under for the weekend so I’ve got to be pleased with that, you can’t be too picky really. I played great all day to be honest. I made some big putts to start with and then I holed another great one on the 16th and a nice birdie at the last.

“I’m still craving that first win. I’ve had two good finishes now, eighth in India and second this week so hopefully I can carry that on in Kenya in a few weeks’ time. I finished second in my fourth event in Italy last year too so hopefully I can finally get that win this season.”

Dougherty, meanwhile, had to settle for tied fourth place on his Challenge Tour debut with a one over par round of 73 but the three-time European Tour winner was happy with his lot. He now plans to play the next tournament on the schedule, The Barclays Kenya Open, to build on a week in which he appears to have slayed the demons which led to him making just one cut in 34 tournaments on the European Tour last year.

March 11 2012

Dougherty rolls back the years to take outright lead

A rejuvenated and resurgent Nick Dougherty will enter the final round of his Challenge Tour debut today as the outright leader on seven under par after a flawless four under par third round of 68 at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.The three-time European Tour winner attached to Shaw

FLYING HIGH: Nick Dougherty

Hill has been rolling back the years at Country Club de Barranquilla after a long winter break from the game and enters a final round in contention for the first time since he won the BMW International Open on The European Tour in 2009.

The 29 year old is one shot clear of his compatriots Philip Archer, from Birchwood, a two time Challenge Tour winner, and fellow Challenge Tour debutante Tyrrell Hatton.

In much more favourable conditions at the Caribbean coast venue outside the city of Barranquilla, Dougherty started with a bang as he reached the turn in three under par thanks to birdies at the second, fifth and seventh holes.

He gained another shot at the par five 11th before a steady run home, with seven successive pars, to sign for his best round of the week following opening rounds of 71 and 70, respectively.

“No bogeys is always good,” reflected the Liverpudlian. “It was a battle again, you just have to work your ball around the course. I’m obviously pleased with not having made any mistakes and all in all I fared really well on a tough day.

“I’m a little tentative at times on the course but that’s expected after a long layoff and also what’s gone before that, but I feel like all in all I’m dealing with it really well. I’m committing to my shots really well.

“The thing about this course is you have to try and pick up the shots on the birdie holes and get through the tough ones. About half of the holes can really bite you so I’ve done well to this point to avoid trouble by playing smart and hitting it where I want to hit it.”

The last time Dougherty entered a final round in contention, he went on to win with a round of 64 helping him overtake Retief Goosen and Bernhard Langer to take the BMW International Open in Germany.

But the affable Englishman insists he will temper his expectations going into ‘Championship Sunday’ in Colombia, having already far surpassed the ones he harboured entering the week.

“I wouldn’t have said coming here that I was ready for it but I seem to have fared really well so far so I’m delighted with that,” he continued. “To come here and have played well for the first three days and given myself a chance on Sunday, it’s very pleasing.

“The last time I was in with a chance was when I won so I know what to do, I have won at the highest level and beaten some of the players in the world but that’s not what I’m thinking about now. Most important for me now is to try and be as free as I can. Like I said before, it’s baby steps and for me and that’s about just not stressing myself and not getting in my own way.”

There were two players from different ends of the spectrum right behind Dougherty in tied second, the extremely experienced 39 year old Archer and young 20 year old Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who is playing on an invite this week in his first European-sanctioned professional tournament.

Archer, whose last win at the 2011 ALLIANZ Open Cotes d’Armor Bretagne came in pounding winds, started well with three birdies in his opening five holes, at the second, fourth and fifth before a bogey at the eighth meant he reached the turn in 34.

A par at the 10th hole was followed by a birdie-bogey-birdie run and another birdie at the 15th saw him home in four under par with a 68 to add to his successive opening rounds of 71.

“I got off to a quick start, which was nice, and then I maintained it really,” said the Warrington man. “The wind was definitely less than the first couple of days but you could still lose one way to the right or left if you’re not concentrating, but I just kept it in play and holed a few putts early on.

“I had the lead in Brittany and I’ll be chasing Nick down this time so it’s a little bit different but I’ll be doing just the same as the last few days, playing for the pars mostly and then attacking the holes you can attack.”

March 10 2102

Relieved Dougherty gets his act together at last with a classy performance in Colombia

OUT OF THE WOODS: Nick Dougherty

SHAW Hill’s Nick Dougherty proved that form is temporary but class is permanent as an impressive two under par round of 70 handed him a joint overnight lead alongside five others after the second round of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.

The three-time European Tour winner joined Daniel Brooks, Espen Kofstad, Chris Hanson, Jamie McLeary and Sebastian L Saavedra on three under par as the race for the title in the $250,000 event was poised for an exciting weekend with seven more players just one shot back at Country Club de Barranquilla, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Dougherty will no doubt be the centre of attention, however, as his superb start to the 2012 season continued with the impressive statistic of just one bogey during his second round, following a one under par opening  71.

The Englishman negotiated the opening 13 holes without a single blemish in extremely in windy conditions, carding birdies at the sixth, 12th and 13th holes before dropping a shot at the 15th.

“I played quite well,” he said. “When I arrived in the morning there wasn’t much wind so I thought I was going to have it easy but it picked up. It was a challenge out there again.

“The front nine, I played really solid and I did miss a chance at the 18th to go four under but overall I’m really pleased. I can’t expect to come to a course like this, when my confidence has been so low, and feel a million dollars when it’s blowing like it is, so I’m very pleased with how I applied myself.”

After a torrid season on the European Tour in 2011, the 29 year old took a long winter break from the game and hadn’t played competitively since missing the cut at the European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage last December. He believes that the break, as well as the change in scenery on his Challenge Tour debut, have been the main contributing factors to his resurgence.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming here” he admitted, “I could have come and shot in the 100s because I hadn’t played in so long. I’ve never had a break like that since I started playing the game and it’s the best possible outcome so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I’ll free up on the course a bit more at the weekend.

“To make the weekend was not my purpose out here but like I said before, it’s baby steps. I’ve played poorly for a couple of years and I’m working hard at it and I feel like I’m making some really good progress in my mind now so it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

Brooks, the joint overnight leader after the opening day, carded a one over par 73 to add to his four under par opening round of 68 while the other overnight leader, Manny Villegas, signed for a two over par second round of 74 to drop one shot back in tied seventh.

March 8 2012

Dougherty storms back to form in Colombia

HAPPY: Nick Dougherty

SHAW Hill tournamnet professional Nick Dougherty laid down an early marker on his Challenge Tour debut, and return to action after a torrid season in 2011, with a superb one under par 71 matched by Birchwood’s Phil Archer in the first round of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.

But they still trailed Manny Villegas delighted the home fans at the whose 68 landed the Colombian a joint overnight lead alongside Englishman Daniel Brooks.

In strong winds,  three-time European Tour winner Dougherty carded four birdies in his first competitive round of 2012.

Dougherty’s career has been a struggle of late, making just one cut in 34 events on the European Tour last year, but the 28 year old had a spring in step after his first day on the Challenge Tour and believes that the change in scenery has rejuvenated him.

“My manager Chubby (Chandler) said to me this week that it’s basically like I’m starting my career all over again and it does feel like that,” said Dougherty, “I’m starting from scratch because of how it’s all gone in recent years so it’s exciting and I really enjoyed it today.

“I played great out there, I’m really happy with how it went. Obviously I wasn’t expecting an easy time on my return but I certainly wasn’t expecting what I had out there! It’s really tough with the wind but you just have to hang in there and be patient and I think I did that really well today.”

After a longer winter break than usual, Dougherty has felt that his game has been coming together recently as he attempts to rebuild his confidence.

“I had played a few rounds with Di (his wife) in the past week and I feel like it’s just been coming together a bit,” he said.

“I’ve played quite well and my game is starting to come back so I came out with a little bit of confidence because of that. I have the experience too which I think will help this week in conditions like that, I have experience of winning big tournaments so hopefully that will stand to me.

“I also have the experience of not letting little things get to be. I’m going out there with minus expectations really after last year so I won’t be letting any little mistakes get to me.”

Archer, meanwhile, also showed his experience as he dropped shots on just two holes, a double-bogey on the fifth and a bogey on the 15th, while also carding four birdies.

“It’s just keeping the ball in play really and not trying to take stupid things on and it’s about keeping the spin from the ball so I think I did that quite well,” said the two-time Challenge Tour winner.

“Without a doubt, experience is important. I had a chip and run from about 150 yards on the 10th today, I think it stayed on the ground about 90 per cent of the time, but I made my par so that experience does come into play to keep control.

“You can quite easily let the head go out there but I was just trying to make pars and birdies were a bonus. I knocked it quite close, which helps but you just have to keep it on the fairways and try and get up and down for pars and I did that a lot too.”

The 39 year old’s last win on the Challenge Tour, at the ALLIANZ Open Cotes d’Armor Bretagne last year, came in horrendous conditions which saw him take victory with a six over par final round, so the strong winds at Country Club de Barranquilla didn’t faze him one bit.

“The last day in Brittany was very much the same principle, people were dropping shots for fun and you had to hold on and that was the case today,” he said.

“I know how to play windy conditions, I’ve played a lot in conditions like this so it bodes well for the next three days but it can quite easily get away from you with one slight error so I have to try stay patient and that’s the plan of attack for the next three days.”

March 6 2012

Powell powers to Mansell victory 

ADAM Powell turned up the heat in the fourth Mansell Finishes Winter Series Pro-am with a seven birdie spree at Royal Liverpool.

The 28-year-old Hartford professional reeled off four in the opening eight holes on his way to posting an impressive five-under-par 67 to beat David Shacklady by a shot.

And the PGA Cup player from Mossock Hall had to settle for second spot in the team prizes by the same margin with amateur parter, Blackpool North Shore’s David Hannis, as Powell enjoyed a double pay day with clubmate Mal Wells.

The penultimate event in the series of six is at Formby on March 19 with the final at St Annes Old Links on April 16.

LEADING SCORES (Par 72): 67 Adam Powell (Hartford); 68 David Shacklady (Mossock Hall); 70 Steve Parry (NW Golf Academy), Simon Edwards (Windermere); 71 Alan Crompton (Haigh Hall), Andrew Barnett (North Wales GR); 72 Scott Jackson (Disley), Will Barnes (Garstang), Danny Wardrop (Didsbury), David Corsby (Fleetwood) .

March 3 2012

Smith has final word in Portugal 

WINNER: David Smith

 DAVID Smith swept to a two shot victory in the PGA North Region Glenmuir Overseas Pro-am at Algarve resort Oceanico – despite only registering six pars in his closing round of 70.

His card revealed an eagle, half-a-dozen birdies and five bogeys as he posted a five-under 72-hole total.

But it was enough for the 2011 De Vere Leeds Cup winner from Swinton Park to deny Craig Corrigan who led in the first two rounds before Smith caught him up in the third.

Haigh Hall teaching professional Corrigan, a regular winner in Portugal, also produced a mix bag in his 72 which featured eagles at the sixth and the par four 16th.

Lee Park’s Chris Crowder signed off with a 70 to tie third with David Haines, from Somerset club Brean, who had a 71.

Meanwhile, a full field of North Region professionals battle for honours at Royal Liverpool on Monday in the fourth of six Mansell Finishes Winter Pro-am Series.

March 2 2012

Jamie leads way after double eagle finish

FINISHING POWER: Jamie Howarth

STOCKPORT based professional Jamie Howarth spreadeagled the field with an eight-under-par 64 to win the 1836 Tour Pro -am at Hesketh. He finished in style with a pair of eagles to pick up the £500 top prize.

Matthew Davies, from Royal Liverpool, was runner-up three shots off the pace.  And Howarth also claimed the team prize with playing partner Jamie Stewart with 11-under-par and two shots ahead of the field.

The next event is at  Fairhaven on March 13.

March 2 2012

Smith draws level with Corrigan

HAIGH Hall teaching professional Craig Corrigan, three shots ahead overnight, lost some of his momentum in the third round of the PGA North Region Glenmuir Overseas Pro-am at Portugal’s Vila Sol where a 76 left him in a tie for first place with David Smith on two-under-par.

The 2011 De Vere Leeds Cup winner from Swinton Park posted a 73 in testing conditions  which accounted for some high returns. His card, which featured a brace of birdies, was the best  of the day.

Corrigan leaked six shots, which included a double bogey at the par five 14th, but birdies at the 10th and closing holes helped to offset them.

March 1 2012

Craig turns up the heat in Portugal

CRAIG Corrigan continued to shine in the PGA North Region Glenmuir Overseas Pro-am in sunny Portugal with a three-under-par second round 69 at Vale do Lobo’s Ocean course.

Five birdies helped to negate a brace of bogeys as the Haigh Hall teaching professional extended his overnight lead by one shot to three over David Haines, from Somerset club Brean.

Swinton Park’s David Smith, the Leeds Cup winner, added 70 to his opening 72 to tie second with Haines.

February 29 2012

Corrigan leads in Portugal

CRAIG Corrigan, who has an impressive record stretching back several years in Portugal, set the first round pace in the PGA North Region Glenmuir Overseas Pro-am with a three-under-par 70 at Vale do Lobo.

The Haigh Hall teaching professional atoned for a double bogey at the second with an eagle at the fifth followed by five birdies, including four in five holes from the ninth.

He goes into the second of four rounds a shot ahead of David Haines, from Somerset club Brean.

February 27 2012

‘Demoted’ Dougherty up for the challenge

SHAW Hill-attached three-time European Tour winner Nick Dougherty is hoping that the sociable but spirited atmosphere of the European Challenge Tour can bring him back to the form of his glory days as he begins his 2012 season at next week’s Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic.

He has taken a sabbatical during the winter break after struggling for form in 2011, making just one cut in 34 starts on The European Tour, and he now wants to rebuild his game on the Challenge Tour.

Where better to resurrect one’s love for the game than the idyllic Caribbean coast of Colombia and Barranquilla Country Club, where Dougherty will be joined by some of the European game’s most promising up-and-coming players, as well as a host of South American hopefuls?

“I’m really excited to get out there now,” said the 29 year old, whose biggest win came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2007. “I’ve never been to Colombia before, and I haven’t seen South America since going out to Argentina as an amateur, so I’m very much looking forward to it.

“I don’t know how it’s going to go to be honest, and I’ve never played on the Challenge Tour before so it’s a bit of an unknown quantity for me.”

One particularly inspirational example for Dougherty would be that of Edoardo Molinari, who reverted back to the Challenge Tour in 2009 before a record-breaking season that year propelled him to European Tour and Ryder Cup success.

Dougherty knows it will be far from a walk in the park but believes it will be the perfect environment to rebuild his confidence.

“I know the standard is high out there though and I don’t expect to go out and win straight away by a few shots,” he said. “But what I do know is that the atmosphere is supposed to be very friendly.

“The European Tour has changed a lot since I started out and it has obviously become extremely professional and competitive but from what I’ve heard the Challenge Tour is a bit more sociable, and I think that’s the kind of place where I can get back to being myself on and off the golf course.

“I think I do better in a sociable environment where I can let my personality come through. In recent years I’ve been trying to do things by the book a bit too much and, while I stand by the decisions I’ve made with my game, it kind of went in the wrong direction for me.

“I’ve been so conscious in recent years of what I was doing, I forgot to just try and enjoy it and just play the game. “I just need to get back to basics now and remember the reasons why I loved the game in the first place, and I’m getting there now. I feel like I’m more me again.”

From the highs of winning prestigious European Tour tournaments and holding an overnight lead after the first round of the 2007 US Open Championship, to the morale-sapping lows of dropping outside the top 1000 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Dougherty has experienced more ups and downs than your average professional.

However, the former Blackburn Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School student believes that the experience will stand him in good stead.

“It’s certainly been a bit of a smack to solar plexus,” he explained. “It’s obviously hit my pride and my ego really hard recently but I still have hope and I still have belief and I think that says a lot.

“I think with the fall that I’ve taken in the last two years, it’s an experience that can make your career and make you a lot stronger, and now I’m just looking forward to getting back out on the golf course.”

Dougherty will not be the only European Tour winner in attendance at the spectacular Barranquilla Country Club, with Jeppe Huldahl, Ross McGowan, Cesar Monasterio, Raymond Russell and Daniel Vancsik all in the field, while German Max Kieffer will be high on confidence in Colombia after his maiden win at the season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge in India last month.

The Pacific Rubiales Colombia Classic will be the first co-sanctioned tournament between the Challenge and Pacific Colombia Tours, with a prize fund of US$250,000 on offer to the 144-man field.

It will be the first time the Challenge Tour has visited Barranquilla Country Club, a challenging golf course set on the outskirts of the city of Barranquilla and adjacent to the picturesque estuary where the River Magdalena meets the Caribbean Sea.

February 24 2012

Cox pips Wolstenholme to take honours in Portugal   

GRAHAM Cox came up of the rails to win PGA North Region Overseas Pro-am at Quinta Do Lago in Portugal.

The Davenport assistant, eight shots behind runaway leader Gary Wolstenholme at the half-way stage, overtook the 2011 European Senior Tour rookie of the year with a fourth and final round of 74 to prevail by three with a four-under-par total.

In testing conditions, Carus Green-attached Gary Wolstenholme, the world’s most capped amateur before turning professional, signed off with an 80 after dropping four strokes on the last three holes.

Cox leaked three on his opening two holes and an indication of the toughness of the course was illustrated by his card which revealed only seven pars.

Garstang professional Will Barnes claimed third place, matching Cox’s 74 for a plus two aggregate.

February 23 2012

Cox within touching distance of Wolstenholme

DAVENPORT assistant professional Graham Cox reduced the overnight deficit from eight shots to three after the third round  of the PGA North Region Overseas Pro-am at Quinta Do Lago in Portugal.

Carus Green-attached Gary Wolstenholme, the 2011 European Senior Tour rookie of the year and the world’s most capped amateur, looked to be coasting to victory until until a late lapse saw him having to settle for a 73, nine-under-par all told, as Cox came in with a 68.

He will be looking over his shoulder in the final round but Cox is the only player will a realistic chance of overtaking him.

February 22 2012

Wolstenholme pulls away from the pack

GARY Wolstenholme blew away the rest of the field with a seven-under-par 65 in the second round of the PGA North Region Overseas Pro-am at Quinta Do Lago in Portugal.

The 2011 European Senior Tour rookie of the year, the world’s most capped player in his amateur days, got off to a flying start with five birdies in his six holes than added three more in a row from the 11th.

Carus Green-attached Wolstenholme blotted his card with a bogey at the 15th as he moved to 10-under-par all told and eight shots ahead of his nearest challenger Graham Cox, the Davenport assistant, who posted 70.

February 21 2012

Wolstenholme and Hancock set pace

GARY Wolstenholme, the 2011 European Senior Tour rookie of the year, rolled in seven birdies for  a three-under-par 69 to share the first round lead with Will Hancock in the PGA North Region Overseas Pro-am at Quinta Do Lago in Portugal.

The word’s most capped amateur before turning professional, who is attached to Kendal club  Carus Green, atoned for five bogeys over the south course when Hancock, from Morecambe, returned a tidier card showing five birdies.

February 12 2012

All to play for as North Region bucks trend again

DESPITE the economic gloom, the Bolton-based PGA North Region has announced a packed

GRAHAM MALY

schedule which includes nine Order of Merit tournaments and a record prize-fund of £280,000. Secretary Graham Maly, embarking on his fifth season at the helm, said: “We have bucked the trend in the last two years by introducing new events and all our main sponsors are supporting us again.

“We’ve lost a few pro-ams, which is not unexpected, but I’m confident there will be others in the pipeline, possibly at clubs celebrating centenaries.”

Five ranking events will double up as pro-ams, the Phoenix Gas Classic at Wychwood Park the latest to switch to the popular format.

The others are the Renewable Service Group Pro-am at Cottingham; the Pokerstars Manx Classic at Ramsey; the Kerr Investments Cumbria Classic at Silloth-on-Solway and Carlisle; and the Rocar Moores and Copley Fixby Classic at Huddersfield.

Completing the nine Order of Merit Tournaments are the Spirotech Open at Marriott Worsley Park; James Brearley Lancashire Open at Blackpool North Shore; De Vere Leeds Cup at Oulton Hall; and the De Vere PGA North Region Championship at Herons’ Reach.

Biggest purse is £20,000 for the Cottingham event on May 25-26.

“It was staged as a regional fixture for the first time last year and was a huge success,” added Maly.

As announced last month, the previous policy of running qualifying rounds for the bigger tournaments has been replaced by a Tour School comprising two-day 36-hole events at Normanton and Dunscar in April.

MAIN FIXTURES – May 25-26: Renewable Service Group Cottingham Parks Pro-am (Cottingham); 29-30: Kerr Investments Cumbrian Classic (Silloth-on-Solway & Carlisle). June 20-21: De Vere PGA North Region Championship (Herons’ Reach). July 11-12 Phoenix Gas Classic (Wychwood Park); 26-28: Pokerstars Manx Classic (Ramsey); August 14-15: Spirotech Open (Marriott Worsley Park); 22-23: De Vere Leeds Cup (Oulton Hall). September 10-11: James Brearley Lancashire Open (Blackpool North Shore); 16-17: Rocar Moors Classic (Fixby).

February2 2002

Wesselingh claims senior card at first attempt

LANCASHIRE-born Paul Wesselingh won his European Senior Tour card at his first attempt when he finished second in the qualifying school in Portugal.

The former Chorley and Northenden professional  finished second, albeit seven shots adrift of wire-to-wire leader American Dick Mast who carded a 67 for the third time in four days to head the 18 players who cleared the hurdle.

Wesselingh, who has represented Great Britain and Ireland six times in the PGA Cup, who took over from Senior Tour Committee Chairman David J Russell as head professional at Kedleston Park, in 2001 and will now follow in footsteps again.

“It’s unbelievable – it is what I have been working towards for the last two or three years” said the 50 year old. “I played solid today and decided early on not to take too many risks and just plodded my way round, which is my strength really.

“I knew everyone would start well, as the first two holes are birdie chances, then fall away again and that’s what happened. I started looking at catching Dick but my putter has been so cold this week – I’ve not holed anything over ten feet and Dick is an awesome putter.”

Mast, 59, had started the day with a three stroke lead over Wesselingh and extended that margin to seven shots with a clinical display at Pestana Golf Resort’s Vale da Pinta, finishing on 14-under.

Wesselingh also secured a card in comfortable fashion, closing with a round of 71, while American Zeke P Martinez, who began his final round with two birdies and a double bogey, eagled the 16th en route to a 69 as he finished on four under par in third place.

But the day belonged to Mast after another impressive performance to succeed compatriot Tim Thelen as winner of the Senior Tour Qualifying School.

Mast birdied the second and fourth holes but bogeys on the fifth and seventh holes meant his advantage over Wesselingh was reduced to two shots. However the momentum then swung back in Mast’s favour when he holed a crucial 25ft birdie putt on the eighth hole followed by an eight footer on the tenth.

Further birdies on the 16th and 17th holes sealed the victory for Mast, who finished third in the 2006 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry.

“It is a big privilege to get onto the European Senior Tour,” he said.  “I’ve not been exempt on the US Champions Tour since 2007 and I’ve always wanted to come over here and play more than I have. I came over in 2006 for The Senior Open for the first time and had a great time at Turnberry and I’m looking forward to coming back and getting to know people over here.

“Paul played extremely well so there was some pressure. It’s tough leading for three rounds so I was pleased with how I managed it.”

Mast had led the qualifiers from First Stage at Pestana’s Gramacho course last week and he has now set his sights on continuing that form into the new season.

“I’d like to win a tournament and get some momentum going into The Senior Open Championship back at Turnberry. I’d also like to try to qualify for the Open itself so hopefully this win can be a momentum builder. I’m really looking forward to coming over and seeing Europe.”

February 1 2012

Wesselingh stays  in hunt for senior tour card

PAUL Wesselingh, a former Chorley and Northenden professional, goes into tomorrow’s  final round of the European Senior Tour Qualifying School Final Stage at Algarve resort Pestana three shots adrift of American Dick Mast after a 68 took him to seven-under-par.

The former PGA North Region champion also has a three stroke cushion over the rest of the field after another steady display.

Wesselingh, the club professional at Kendleston Park, birdied the first, seventh and 12th holes to maintain the pressure on Mast at the top of the leaderboard as he bids to secure a card at the first attempt.

But he will also be looking for an improved performance on the greens in his final round.

“I holed a 20ft putt on 17 and another on the sixth when I could have dropped a shot so it is two bogey free rounds in a row,” he said.
“I was pleased with the round but I’m struggling still on the greens so it could easily have been four or five shots better. I’m just hoping I can get in that top six though.”
Another Englishman, Steve Cipa, is third on four under par after a one under par 70 which included a double bogey seven on the par five 16th hole.

January 31 2012

Wesselingh in great shape in senior tour bid

FORMER Chorley and Northenden professional Paul Wesselingh stayed on course for a

PAUL WESSELINGH

European Senior Tour card with a four-under-par 67 to share second place at the final qualifying school half-way stage at Portugal resort Pestana.

Leading the field chasing one of the 14 cards up for grabs in American Dick Mast who fired a second consecutive 67 to move to four ahead.

The 59 year old, who finished third in the 2006 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry, sank a curling 12ft birdie putt on the par three fifth hole to kick-start his round before adding four more birdies to his card, dropping his only shot of the day on the 11th.

Mast said: “I didn’t hit it as well today but I managed myself better and I knew the course a little better,” said Mast. “I didn’t make any big mistakes today unlike yesterday when I three-putted three times and hit it out of bounds once.

“I scored well today for the way I hit it and hung in well. I was patient today which pleased me. The course is toughening up as it dries out and you need to have good position out there.  With the position I’m in now it suits me as I can go for the middle of the green as I don’t always need to make birdie. If someone is trying to catch you they have to go for flags.

“I’ve quite a naturally aggressive player so I’ve been reminding myself to back off a little. But that can hurt you too as you need to play your game but I will try to play percentage shots aggressively over the next two days.”

Wesselingh is tied with Mast’s compatriot Charlie Bolling but the rest of the region contingent are a long way off the pace, Ashton-in-Makerfield’s Peter Allan the pick of the punch at four-over all told and tied 42.

Mytton Fold’s Jeff Mathews, the PGA North Region captain, is three shots back in 48th position while former Great Lever pro Donald Stirling, who is based in Austria, in one plus nine.

January 31 2012

Six-birdie Broadhurst proves he can still cut it after West Lancs victory

WINNER: Paul Broadhurst

PAUL Broadhurst no longer struts his stuff on the European Tour after losing his card at the end of 2010. But the 46-year-old former Ryder Cup hero still has an appetite for success as evidenced by the decisive victory in the 1836tour.com pro-am at West Lancs.

He racked up six birdies in a five-under-par 67 at the Blundellsands links to top a 47-strong professional field.

The six-time European Tour winner from Atherstone, unbeaten when Europe lost by a point in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island, finished three shots ahead of Haigh Hall’s Craig Corrigan who atoned for three dropped strokes with five birdies.

Next event is at Hesketh on Thurs March 1.

January 29 2012

 Wesselingh boosts Senior Tour card hopes

FORMER Chorley and Northenden professional Paul Wesselingh cruised into this week’s European Senior Tour final when he won the qualifying stage at Portugal’s Vila Sol.

Rounds of 73 and 72  in tough conditions left his two shots ahead of the chasing pack which included one time Great Lever pro Donald Stirling who is based in Austria.

Over at Silves, Lancashire PGA captain and Mytton Fold pro Jeff Mathews gabbed one of the last qualifying spots along Yorkshire’s Richard Masters.

And Ashton-in-Makerfield’s Peter Allen also squeezed through with nothing to spare at Gramacho.

The 62 qualifiersl join 13 exempt players un the final shoot-out at Pestana where the top six will earn full Senior Tour cards for the season and those finishing seventh to 14th will secure conditional playing rights.

January 18 2012

Inaugural North West Coaching Conference

THE Cheshire County Golf Partnership are providing players the opportunity to learn and develop coaching skills with the help of the most knowledgeable experts in their field at an inaugural coaching conference at De Vere Carden Park on January 25.

Whatever your previous experience the conference is an affordable opportunity for networking with other coaches, including Kendal McWade,  from Instinctive Golf, and developing your skills at a convenient location within Cheshire.

By attending this conference you will have the opportunity to learn more about the County Golf Partnership.

If you have qualified volunteers at your facility they are also welcome to attend as they can similarly develop their skills and knowledge.

Please note that numbers are limited and so booking is essential – places will be reserved on a first come, first served basis. The cost of the conference is £35.

For more information or to reserve your place please contact training coordinator Iain Seath (07784 533033) and  Danielle Wilkinson (07966 628038), PGA regional coaching development officer (North).

January 11 2012

PGA North Region launches tour school

 PROFESSIONALS hoping to compete in PGA North Region Order of Merit tournaments will have

GRAHAM MALY

to attend tour school. In a new initiative announced today, the previous policy of running qualifying rounds for the bigger tournaments has been replaced by two-day 36-hole events at Normanton and Dunscar.

Regional secretary Graham Maly explained: “We are holding them before the season gets fully under way so that players will know their rankings and able to plan their diaries much earlier than normal.

“It’s also a cost-cutting exercise because they won’t have to leave their workplace as often to travel up and down the region which is time-consuming.

“Any player who fails to secure an automatic qualifying spot in the first event may enter the second one to improve their ranking position. In total there will be 60 qualifying spots but exempt players are also required to confirm their entry.”

Maly added: “The South and East regions have already adopted the system which has been well received.”

Tour school dates: April 17-18 (Normanton); April 25-26 (Dunscar).

The nine Order of Merit Tournaments are: Renewable Service Group Cottingham Parks Pro-am (Cottingham); Kerr Investments Cumbrian Classic (Penrith & Carlisle); Pokerstars Manx Classic (Ramsey); Spirotech Open (Marriott Worsley Park); James Brearley Lancashire Open (Blackpool North Shore); De Vere Leeds Cup (Oulton Hall); Rocar Moores Fixby Classic (Huddersfield); De Vere PGA North Region Championship (Herons’ Reach).

NB: The full schedule will appear on pga.info when all dates have been confirmed.

January 8 1012

King Louis reigns again in Africa Open

LOUIS Oosthuizen, who has a home in Cheshire,  began the 2012 Race to Dubai in style as he successfully defended his Africa Open crown at East London Golf Club.
The South African won on home soil for the second year running with a closing 67 to hold off the challenge of compatriots Tjaart Van der Walt and Retief Goosen.
The 2010 Open Champion held firm on the back nine as his playing partners struggled for birdies, Oosthuizen running out a two shot winner on 27-under-par.
Van der Walt finished second after a closing 69, with Goosen carding the same score for third – the two-time US Open Champion’s challenge coming undone when he took three from the edge of the green at the par three 10th.

Regional players also made a fist of it. Rookie Matthew Baldwin, 24, from Royal Birkdale, tied 10th after a closing 69 for a 17-under-par total. Two further back, in a share of 18th, was Formby Hall’s Tommy Fleetwood who signed off with 70 and another former Lancashire County player, Matthew Nixon who had to go back to Tour School to keep his card, finished 47th after a 66,  some  16 shots off the pace.

Meanwhile, Birchwood’s Phil Archer gave himself a confidence boost with his best-of-the week 67, all told minus 13 which lifted him into a tie for 34th spot.

January 6 2012

Louis leads as Lancs lads shine in South Africa

CHESHIRE-based Louis Oosthuizen leads an all South African top five at the halfway stage of the Africa Open after a superb display at the East London Club. The defending champion was immaculate from tee to green as he recorded an 11 under par 62 – just one outside Richard Sterne’s course record. At 15 under par he leads by two from compatriots Jaco Ahlers, Thomas Aiken, Retief Goosen and Tjaart Van der Walt after a day in which Lancashire lads Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Baldwin excelled.
They are respectively four and five shots off the pace, Fleetwood carding 66 and Tour rookie Baldwin a sublime 64.
Oosthuizen, the 29-year-old 2010 Open champion managed by Chubby Chandler, began the day with a birdie at the ninth, and added four further gains in a back-nine 32.
He birdied the first, and picked up another shot when he two-putted the long third after finding the green in two.
He almost chipped in for eagle at the fifth, the ball lipping out and leaving a simple birdie chance, before the three-time European Tour winner finally got his eagle at the next.
Having found the green at the 308 yard par four with a three wood, Oosthuizen then sunk a 50 foot putt for a two, before finishing his round with a curling 25 foot birdie putt two holes later.

“I was aggressive on the putter. I went about six foot past a few times and I had to make those for par,” said Oosthuizen. “The last one I made on the eighth would have been eight or ten foot past, but it hit the middle of the cup.
“But I was aggressive because yesterday I left a few putts short and you’re not going to hit it that far past on these greens.

Meanwhile, Paul Casey has dislocated his right shoulder while snowboarding and expects to miss the first couple of months of the 2012 season.

He said: “I am very frustrated as I was really looking forward to getting off to a fast start in 2012.  I’m disappointed to miss one out on defending my title at the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa in January and also the entire Middle East swing. I’ve always played  well in the desert and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is one of my favourite events of the year so I will particularly hate sitting out that one.

“The good news is that the experts I’ve seen say I don’t need surgery and, having already started my rehabilitation exercises,  I should be back hitting balls in a few weeks.”

December 20 2011

Donald is Golf  Writers’ choice

LUKE Donald has collected another accolade after his historic season earned him the Golf Writers’ Trophy for 2011.

Donald is only the second player after Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win the triple crown of awards having already been named the European Tour Golfer of the Year andPGATour Player of the Year.

Darren Clarke, the Open champion, and Rory McIlroy, the US Open champion, tied for second place, while the European Solheim Cup team, captained by Alison Nicholas, took fourth place in the annual poll of members of the Association of Golf Writers.

“Any award you win gives you a great amount of pleasure and for the Golf Writers to consider me as their player of the year means a lot, it really does,” Donald said. “These are the people who really understand golf and appreciate all that I have achieved this year.

“All the people in the running for the AGW award – Rory, Darren, the Solheim Cup team and the Walker Cup team – would have been worthy winners and therefore it is very gratifying to get the vote ahead of all of them. That means an awful lot to me.”

Clarke, who won the Open at his 20th attempt at Sandwich, said: “What Luke Donald has achieved this year is unbelievable. I’m full of admiration for him. And for Rory to win the US Open like he did and so young shows what a fantastic talent he is. Both would be worthy winners of the Golf Writers Trophy.”

McIlroy, whose win in Hong Kong meant the Race toDubaiwent down to the final tournament, said: “It has been an amazing year for me but as I said in Dubai, Luke deserves to be the No 1 in our game this year. It is very satisfying to be mentioned alongside Luke, Darren and the Solheim team by the Golf Writers.”

Nicholas, whose team produced an amazing comeback in the late stages to pip the Americans at Killeen Castle, said: “I would like to congratulate the guys for their outstanding performances during 2011 and am delighted the European Solheim Cup team was judged alongside them. It proves the strength of men’s and women’s professional golf in Europe at present and highlights the young and fearless talent that is coming through. Our own next challenge will be to win the Solheim Cup for the first time in theUSAin 2013.”

Donald became the first player officially to top of the money lists in both America and Europe. Ending the year as the world No 1, having deposed Lee Westwood by beating his compatriot in a playoff at the BMW PGA Championship, the 34-year-old Englishman won four times in 2011, including the WGC Accenture Matchplay, the Barclays Scottish Open and the Children’s Miracle Network tournament at Disney World. The last title was achieved with six birdies in the last nine holes to overhaul Webb Simpson at the top of the US money list.

Donald went on to finish third at the Dubai World Championship and take the Race toDubai title ahead of McIlroy. His excellent consistency all year brought 20 top-ten finishes from 27 tournaments, despite an emotional finale to the year that saw the birth of his second daughter, Sophia, and the death of his father, Colin.

Donald added: “It is a great feeling being given any award but to now be able to add the Golf Writers Award to that of the PGA Tour Player of the Year and the European Tour Race to Dubai Golfer of the Year, is something really special and something I will cherish. I look forward to actually receiving the award from the AGW in person and displaying it proudly on my mantelpiece at home.”

Donald will receive the trophy at the Golf Writers Dinner during the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes in July. The Golf Writers Trophy is the oldest of the annual awards, dating back to 1951, and, uniquely, takes into account both individual and team performances by European golfers.

Bill Elliott, chairman of the Association of Golf Writers, said: “We received a record number of votes this year which reflects the range of outstanding achievements by European golfers in 2011. This has been an extraordinary year and left members with an extremely difficult task in assessing their first, second and third place votes.

“Darren Clarke’s triumph at the Open Championship was one of the most popular and emotional victories ever seen, while Rory McIlroy is the most exciting talent in the game whose US Open win was the single most impressive performance of the year.

“But what Luke Donald has achieved over the whole season has been nothing less than superb. He is a class act on the course, but also off it, and he thoroughly deserves all the accolades he has received.

“Personally, I am delighted the Solheim Cup team featured strongly in the voting, which perhaps reflects my own view that their thrilling last-gasp victory was not just the most exciting golf of the year but the one of the best finishes to a team event in the history of the game.”

The Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team finished fifth in the poll, while there were also votes for the GB&I captain Nigel Edwards; the European captain Nicholas; Solheim stars Suzann Pettersen, Catriona Matthew and Caroline Hedwall; Tom Lewis, the leading amateur at the Open Championship and a winner of his third tournament on the European Tour; Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia and Alvaro Quiros.

December 15 2011

Nixon regains his Tour card

MATTHEW Nixon secured an immediate return to the European Tour by finishing in a share of 24th place in the Qualifying School Final at PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain.

The 22-year-old from Ashton-under-Lyne carded a three-under-par 69 in the sixth and final round to finish on 12 under par, thanks to three birdies and a confidence-boosting eagle on the ninth.

The former England international and Lancashire player was among 37 competitors to secure their playing rights for next year.

England’s David Dixon also posted a 69 to hold on to his overnight lead on 21 under, one shot ahead of compatriot Sam Hutsby.

Another Englishman, Andy Sullivan, who turned professional earlier this year, was third.

December 14 2011

Nixon keeps in hunt for Tour card as Dixon leads in Spain

MATTHEW Nixon in still in great shape to regain the European Tour card he lost at the end of his rookie season last month despite firing a fifth round 71 in the qualifying school final at Catalyuna’s the Stadium course.

The Ashton-under-Lyne youngster picked up three birdies in the last seven holes to share 22nd place at nine-under-par going into tomorrow’s last round.

If Nixon was happy, so was fellow Englishman David Dixon who stormed into the lead after a  67, which included no fewer than seven birdies.

That score elevated him to the top spot, which  compatriot Sam Hutsby had occupied for the previous four days.

Dixon, whose sole European Tour win came at the Saint-Omer Open  2008, overcame a bogey on the second hole to card four consecutive birdies from the third hole, followed by another on the eighth to reach the turn in 32, four-under-par.

While the experienced Englishman did hold a three shot lead at one point during the day, his five consecutive pars after the turn, followed by a birdie and a bogey at the 15th and 16th, opened the door for Bernd Ritthammer to join him at the top temporarily.

A gained shot at the 17th hole, however, handed him a single shot lead over the German heading into the final day of the gruelling six-day marathon at PGA Catalunya Resort, near Girona.

“I think the experience of having been here a few times before definitely helps because you tend to deal with the highs and lows a bit better,” said the 34 year old, who won the Silver Medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2001.

“You’ve just got to try to hang in there, go steady and give yourself a chance of getting your card and possibly even winning. It’s been a funny old year so it’d be nice to finish it on a high note, but I’d be happy with a top 10 finish.”

December 13 2011

Nixon battles on – but gloom for Dougherty, Archer and Smith

MATTHEW Nixon safely negotiated the fourth round of the European Tour School final stage to set himself up for the final two days which will decided whether he is handed back the card he won in 2010 – his rookie year.

The Ashton-under-Lyne player closed with a 72 at Catalunya to tie 25th on eight-under-par to finish well within the cut.

But Birchwood’s Phil Archer agonisingly failed by one shot after bogeying the last hole for a five-under-par total.

Shaw Hill’s Nick Dougherty will join him on next year’s Challenge Tour, double bogeying two of the first three holes in a 69 which left him on three-over-par all told and in 120th place.

There was no joy for Swinton Park’s Dave Smith, either. He finished in a share of 138th spot after a 76.

December 13 2011

Parry at the double

STEVE Parry signed off the year with a two-shot victory in the 1836tour.com winter pro-am at West Lancs.

And it was a double pay-day for the 2010 PGA North Region Order of Merit winner, who runs his own academy at Hart Common.

His two-under-par 69 left former European Open champion Andrew Murray, from Lymm, in second place, and with clubmate John O’Riley claimed the team prize with 43 points – denying Andrew’s son Tom and Neil Crowther by two.

December 12 2012

Nixon keeps on course to regain Tour card

MATTHEW Nixon continued his steady climb up the leaderboard at the European Tour School with a fine 67, his best score so far, in the third round at Catalunya Resort in Spain.

The Ashton-under-Lyne player, who gained his card at the first attempt last year, reeled off five birdies to negate two bogeys to lie on eight-under-par and tied 15th going into tomorrow’s crucial fourth round.

That’s when the cut will be made with the leading 80 players qualifying for the last two days from which only 30 will be handed playing rights.

Birchwood’s Phil Archer slipped down to a share of 69th place after a 72 while Nick Dougherty’s woes continued.

The Shaw Hill attached professional, a four time winner in Europe, is facing life on the Challenge Tour after carding a 75 which included a double bogey at the third to slide further down the pecking order at 116.

And Swinton Park’s Dave Smith also had a 75 which dumped him into 135 place.

December 11 2011

Dougherty in desperate battle to keep his tour card

NICK Dougherty has left himself  a mountain to climb after the second day of the European Tour School Final at Spanish resort Catlaluna where a  one-over-par 73 dumped him into a  tie for 98th spot.

The Shaw Hill tournament professional is in serious danger of losing  the card he has held for 10 years following a disastrous season.

But Ashton-under-Lyne’s Matthew Nixon, who cleared the hurdle at the first attempt last winter, is on course to do so again after a second round 69 gave him in a share of 26th place.

Birchwood’s Phil Archer, tying 37th, can’t afford any more slips in the third round but his 65 today suggested he had hit form  when he needs it most.

Meanwhile, Heysham-based Gary Wolstenholme clinched the PGA Seniors’ Tour Rookie of the Year award at the final event, the MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius, won by Aussie Peter Fowler.
December 10 2011

Howard’s way for Lancashire professional

MASTER: Howard Bennett

FORMER Shaw Hill and Duxbury Park professional Howard Bennett has written an on-line book about his coaching experiences including working with Open champions Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke. The book, which is free to download, delivers a fascinating insight into the Irish pair, particularly three-time major champion Harrington who even at 16 and playing off a two handicap revealed some of the traits that were to make him a champion. Southport-based Bennett, who is attached to Formby Hall Golf Resort, describes how Harrington was already a deep thinker on the game and how the young Dubliner wrestled with elements of his game including delaying the decision of switching from his natural straight to fade to a straight to draw flight which would give him greater distance and ultimately enable him to compete at the very highest level. During his 15 year tenure as Irish national coach  the PGA Master Professional set about implementing his coaching philosophy which was honed over many years and included learning from the best such as John Jacobs, who he would watch teach on cold winter nights in Blackpool, and Sir Henry Cotton in the sunnier climes of Portugal.One delightful anecdote he tells of Cotton is the three-time Open champion being approached at dinner by a gentleman asking if he could coach a plus four handicapper who is his opinion was a great prospect. ‘Can he play?’ shot back Cotton. The confused man, mishearing, repeated the question again mentioning his plus four handicap. ‘But can he play?’ replied Cotton again. Non the wiser, Cotton finally made himself clear, saying ‘tell me, what has he won?’ As Bennett observed, this was an important and repeating factor in Cotton’s assessment of a player, and a valuable lesson to the younger coach.

Anyone interested in downloading the book should log on to http://www.howardbennett.co.uk/index.html

December 9 2011

Back to school for Dougherty 

SHAW Hill-attached Nick Dougherty is hoping to take a step back in time at the Qualifying

TESTING TIME: Nick Dougherty

School Final Stage which starts tomorrow  in a bid to extend his long tenure on the European Tour. The affable Englishman – whose wife Di, the Manchester-born former Sky Sports presenter, has also made the trip to PGA Catalunya Resort – is making his second appearance at the six-round Final Stage, a decade after a sparkling performance on his debut. In 2001, the then 19-year-old former Blackburn Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School student cruised through the final, finishing third behind Sweden’s Johan Sköld to earn a European Tour card a mere matter of months after joining the professional ranks.

Fast forward 10 years, however, and the three-time European Tour champion is back at school with contrasting emotions, following a testing campaign which has yielded just €10,600 in prize money.

But Dougherty is taking a philosophical approach to his week’s work in Girona, northern Spain, where a top 30 finish will secure him a place on the 2012 European Tour International Schedule.

He said: “Last time I was at Qualifying School wasn’t stressful at all, and I loved every minute of it – just being there was a bonus for me at that stage in my career. The emotions are obviously a bit different coming back here 10 years later, but it’s still only a golf tournament.

“It’s often referred to as the dreaded Tour School, but we’re only here to play golf – it’s like we’re expected to find a cure for cancer this week! But now that I am here, I’m going to do everything I can to make it a successful week. Obviously in an ideal world I would have played well enough to have kept my card, but the reality is that I did not play anywhere near well enough.”

By his own admission, just one cut all season has had a debilitating effect on Dougherty’s confidence levels; but the likeable Lancastrian is determined to reverse his recent fortunes through a mixture of hard work, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness.

He said: “Things can turn around quickly in this game. There are still some technical issues I need to address going forward, but all my focus  has to be on playing the best I possibly can. I’ve really struggled all year to keep the ball in play, but if I can do that , then I’ll give myself a good chance.

“Things haven’t gone my way this year and of course it’s been very tough at times, but there’s no point feeling sorry for yourself in this game. You have just got to keep plugging away and hoping you turn the corner. If I can play well here  and build some confidence, it could be the start of good things for me again.”

November 29 2011

2014 Ryder Cup date announced

THE Ryder Cup at The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland, will take

IT’S A DATE: From the left, Peter Lederer, Diageo Scotland, The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, Scotland’s First Minister, Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup Director, and Patrick Elsmie, Managing Director of the Gleneagles Hotel © Rob McDougall.

place from Friday September 26 to Sunday September 28, 2014. The date for the 40th staging of the biennial contest between Europe and the United States was announced at The Gleneagles Hotel today in the presence of Scotland’s First Minister, The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, European Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills, Peter Lederer, Chairman of Gleneagles Hotel, and Patrick Elsmie, Managing Director of The Gleneagles Hotel.

Europe are the holders of the Ryder Cup, having triumphed by 14 ½ – 13 ½ at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales last October, but the United States will be keen to reclaim Samuel Ryder’s fabled trophy and hence travel to Scotland in 2014 as holders themselves, after the 39th Ryder Cup which will be held from September 28-30, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club on the outskirts of Chicago.

Alex Salmond MSP, said: “As the home of golf, Scotland is well placed to host the best Ryder Cup in the competition’s history when it arrives at Gleneagles in 2014.

“The arrangements for this spectacular event are well underway, and I am delighted to announce today that the 2014 event will be held over the weekend of September 26-28, allowing the tens of thousands of spectators expected to attend to begin making their travel plans in earnest.

“I am also delighted to have seen for myself today the many exciting changes that are being made to improve this already outstanding golf course. As well as the hi-tech efforts to reduce water on the greens, the Ryder Cup Teams can expect many of the changes – proposed by Jack Nicklaus – to provide a sterner test as they seek glory during the competition.

“During the week of The Ryder Cup itself, the Scottish economy is expected to benefit by up to £100m, as visitors flock from across the globe to experience superb golf on one of the best courses in the world.

“But the benefits of the tournament will long outlive that special week and be felt for many years to come. As well as the lasting economic benefit, having the world’s premier golf team event on our doorstep will allow thousands of young Scottish golfers chance to see the very best the sport has to offer up close, giving them an experience they will never forget and inspiring them to achieve great things in the future.”

Richard Hills said: “Since Scotland was awarded the staging of The Ryder Cup ten years ago, we have all been looking forward to visiting Gleneagles in 2014 and we are pleased to announce the dates for the 40th biennial contest today here at Gleneagles itself.

“Gleneagles have worked closely with Jack Nicklaus Golf Design to deliver a great course and I am certain the Gleneagles team, and Scotland, will deliver an outstanding Ryder Cup in three years’ time.”

Patrick Elsmie said: “We are excited that the dates have now been confirmed for The Ryder Cup and are looking forward to the prospect of welcoming the world’s greatest golfers to Gleneagles in 2014.

“We were delighted to re-open the Dormy Clubhouse this spring, following a £3 million refurbishment, and to announce the new appointment of Stuart McEwen, as Director of Golf. This winter we are continuing work on The PGA Centenary Course in conjunction with Jack Nicklaus, with the intention of having the course alterations completed by May 2012.”

The 2014 Ryder Cup will represent only the second time in history that golf’s greatest team event has been staged in Scotland, the previous occasion, in 1973, taking place at almost exactly the same time of year, September 20-22, at Muirfield on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

That match was played a mere six years before players from Continental Europe were welcomed into the fold. Since that landmark Ryder Cup in 1979, the contest has enthralled golf fans the world over with the close nature of affairs summed up by the statistics which have seen Europe win eight times, the United States seven, with one match halved.

Although the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club is still ten months away, interest is growing in being part of the crowd at The Gleneagles Hotel in three years’ time.

Golf fans can already pre-register their interest for tickets for the 2014 Ryder Cup via The European Tour’s official website, www.europeantour.com. If you already have a ‘My European Tour’ account, you simply need to tick The 2014 Ryder Cup ticket box in your profile to register your interest. If you don’t have an existing ‘My European Tour’ account, you will need to register before ticking the box.

November 21 2011

Shacklady eight shots off Turkey pace

PGA Cup ace David Shacklady faces a big task if he is to land the Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey. The Mossock Hall pro carded a two over 73 to trail Surrey ace Richard Wallis by eight shots after the opening round of the 54-hole event. Fellow north region pro David Smith (Swinton) also had a 73 while Mid Yorkshire’s Aran Wainwright was a stroke further adrift alongside Carlisle Driving Range’s Craig Goodfellow. But the day belonged to Wallis, the Walmer & Kingsdown ace reeling off five birdies in six holes from the eighth during the first round at Antalya Golf Club’s PGA Sultan Course to carve out a two stroke advantage over in-form Matt Cort (Rothley Park).Cort, fresh from adding the Australian Futures

TRAILING; David Shacklady

title to his PGA Assistants’ crown, fired a 67 to be a shot ahead of Waterlooville’s David Higgins who carded a 68.Former play-offs winner Paul Streeter (Lincoln Golf Centre) sits at two under and three players are tied fifth with 70s – defending champion Greig Hutcheon (Banchory), David Patrick (Elie Sports Centre) and Guy Woodman (East Berkshire)..With a clutch of European and Challenge Tour spots available for the winner plus the top 10 qualifying for the BMW PGA Championship, the stakes were high as the tournament got underway and South Region No. 1 Wallis signaled his intentions with a birdie on the par-4 first hole. Two 18 foot birdie putts on eight and nine sparked his birdie blitz but perfectionist Wallis still had time to rue a couple he left out there. “I can’t be disappointed with six under but I missed a couple of short ones – a three footer on 17 and an eight footer on the last,” said Wallis.

November 14 2011

Shacklady on target for Turkey shoot-out

SERIAL winner David Shacklady is relishing the chance to add the end-of-season PGA Play-Offs title to the 200-plus assorted victories he’s notched up in a career spanning more than two decades.

“That’s been my target since the start of the season,” he said after earning his place in next week’s Turkey shoot-out by winning the North Region Order of Merit for the second time since 2007.

But he also admitted that not even the prospect of qualifying for next year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth could compare with competing against the United States in the PGA Cup in California nearly two months ago.

The Mossock Hall professional, leading points scorer for the losing GB&I team, said: “I’ve appeared in a couple of Open Championships but nothing can beat that experience. It was totally different, especially playing for the team with everyone rooting for each other. I loved every minute of it. It was an unbelievable trip.”

Shacklady, 44, who won the Kerr Investments Cumbria Classic in May – surprisingly his first merit title – expects to arrive at the PGA Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club completely free from the back injury he sustained mid-summer

“I’ve just moved house but I’m going easy on the do-it-yourself jobs,” he added.

In one of the closest finishes for years, he claimed the Mike Slater Memorial Order of Merit Trophy by 24 points from Aran Wainwright and by 46 from David Smith, who took the last qualifying spot for Turkey where three days of action start next Monday.

Wainwright, 36, is unlikely to forget how he booked his place.    “I was offered the position of head professional at Mid Yorks Golf Club, where I was an assistant, on the morning of the first round of the Spirotech Open in Manchester,” he explained.

“It was just the incentive I needed. Suddenly I felt all the pressure was taken off me and I went out and shot 10-under-par and won the tournament.”

Swinton Park assistant Smith, 38, who won the De Vere Leeds Cup  – professional golf’s oldest trophy – also reached the PGA Play-Offs in 2007.

“I didn’t do too well but I’m hoping to improve this time, especially with the event being held a couple of weeks before I go the European Tour School,” he said.

November 8 2011

Craig and Paul click with 66

HAIGH Hall teaching professional Craig Corrigan and EuroPro Tour player Paul Grannell, who is attached to Vale Royal Abbey, took route 66 to share the spoils at Formby in the second of six fixtures in the PGA North Region Mansell Winter Series.

Houghwood assistant Barry Taylor finished third on 68 as Lee Park professional Chris Crowder moved into pole position in the Order of Merit after tying fourth a shot back with Matthew Tottey, from North Wales.

Crowder is 205 points in front of Grannell and Corrigan going itno the third event on November 21 at Royal Liverpool where he won the series opener.

Fleetwood in focus: rock on, Tommy

WHEN Tommy Fleetwood came within a whisker of winning the 2010 English Challenge as a fresh-faced amateur, anyone who was there to witness his mercurial display could see that the teenager had serious talent. But perhaps we could not appreciate just how much.

As eye-catching as his prodigious performance was, what was perhaps even more impressive was his demeanour in the immediate aftermath.

Most 19 year olds who had just missed out on capturing their debut Challenge Tour title by a single stroke after three-putting the last hole might have appeared crestfallen.

But not Fleetwood, whose mature reaction belied his tender years. He was charm personified, warmly congratulating Daniel Gaunt on his victory and shrugging off his own disappointment with a joke and a smile. He knew his time would come.

Sure enough, fast forward 15 months and Fleetwood’s smile was as wide as the Ribble estuary in his native Southport, as he held aloft the trophy for ending the season as the Challenge Tour Number One – in the process becoming the youngest winner of the Rankings in the Tour’s 22-year history.

Due largely to his victories at the lucrative Kazakhstan Open and his runner-up finish at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, where he collected a combined €101,620 en route to finishing his first full Challenge Tour campaign with earnings of €148,912, Fleetwood became the ninth Englishman and the second from Southport to top the Rankings, following Lee Slattery’s success in 2004.

That so many professional golfers should hail from the small coastal town in Merseyside is perhaps no surprise, given that it is often referred to as “England’s Golfing Capital” due to its abundance of championship links courses, of which there are no fewer than 43.

Royal Birkdale is perhaps the jewel in Southport’s crown, having hosted The Open Championship on nine occasions; but it was in the somewhat less salubrious surroundings of Southport Municipal Golf Club that Fleetwood – under the auspices of Sefton Juniors coach Ted Moule – first formed the technique which would later lay the foundations for his meteoric rise through the professional ranks.

Fleetwood was playing nine holes every Monday from the age of five, and two years later he entered his first national competition. “It was an under-13 tournament in the Weetabix Championship, and I shot 130,” Fleetwood recalled. “But I didn’t finish last, and I remember feeling pretty pleased with myself.”

Even as a seven year old, the competitive fires had started to burn.

Aged 11, he joined the junior ranks at Formby Hall Golf Club, where the members soon started to take notice of the small boy with a big talent who would spend countless hours on the range after school and at the weekend.

All the while, a guiding hand was provided by his father and mentor Pete, a manual labourer by trade and a keen amateur golfer in his spare time.

Throughout a stellar amateur career which included victories at the Scottish Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship – by eight shots – and the English Amateur Championship, and which culminated in him topping the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings, and playing in the Walker Cup, Pete was often seen at his young son’s side.

Whilst he was never the archetypal pushy parent, inevitably the pair sometimes fell out – but never for long.

Fleetwood Junior said: “My dad never made me do anything I didn’t want to, but if he thought I wasn’t trying hard enough or giving it my all, then he’d let make his feelings pretty clear. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years like any father and son, but we always kiss and make up.
“My mum was in hospital for a while when I was growing up so he had to bring me up himself, and he did a pretty good job. He’s helped me out so much, on and off the course. He’s always been the first person I ask for advice, and probably always will be. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me, and I hope I’ve made him proud – although he’d never tell me that himself!”

The mutual admiration and affection between father and son is self-evident, and it was only fitting that Fleetwood Junior had his dad on his bag for the most important victory of his fledgling professional career at the Kazakhstan Open.

Unlike at the English Challenge, this time there was to be no denying Fleetwood, who holed a huge birdie putt on the last hole to take the title, and with it the €64,000 winner’s cheque which would guarantee him a place on European golf’s top tier.

His runner-up finish at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, which secured the top spot in the Rankings, was the icing on an exceedingly good cake, but now the hard work starts as he prepares for life with the big boys on The European Tour.

Fleetwood said: “The disappointment of not winning will last all of about 10 seconds, because I’ve got a lot to look forward to. The standard on the Challenge Tour is unbelievably high, so to finish first in the Rankings gives me so much confidence and belief to take into next season.”

“He’ll win one next year, I’ve got no doubt about that,” added Fleetwood Senior. It would be no surprise if Pete’s prophecy were to come true. After all, dad knows best.

November 6. 2011

Fleetwood tops Challenge Tour rankings

HOME-SPUN  Andrea Pavan edged his final day shoot-out with Tommy Fleetwood at the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final, but it was the young Lancashire lad  who ended the season as the Challenge Tour’s No 1, becoming the youngest winner of the rankings in the circuit’s 22-year history.

On a day of high winds and even higher drama in Puglia, southern Italy,

DOUBLE TOPS: Tommy Fleetwood and Andrea Pavin

Pavan delighted the locals at San Domenico Golf, his home from home, with a one stroke victory over Fleetwood, whose runner-up finish ensured he would usurp his compatriot Sam Little at the top of the rankings.

That scenario had looked increasingly unlikely after Fleetwood had opened with a double bogey and added a bogey at the eighth hole. But the 20 year old from Southport is made of stern stuff, picking up birdies at the 11th and 16th holes and a crucial eagle at the 15th to join Pavan on 17-under-par.

Neither player’s approach shot found the 18th green, which was playing into the teeth of the wind whipping in off the Adriatic coastline.

But Pavan played a deft chip, and when Fleetwood raced his birdie attempt from the fringe of the green past the hole and missed the return, the 22 year old from Rome was left with the relatively straightforward task of holing out from four feet to take the title and, with it, the winner’s cheque for €56,650.

That moved Pavan up to second place in the Rankings behind Fleetwood, who topped the list with €148,912 – the second highest season’s earnings after Italian Edoardo Molinari in 2009.

Both men were naturally delighted, as were Sweden’s Pelle Edberg (fifth) and the English duo of Andrew Johnston (tied third) and Sam Walker (tied sixth), whose respective displays ensured that they would gatecrash the top 20 at the expense of Branden Grace, José-Filipe Lima and Anthony Snobeck. After bogeying his last two holes the unfortunate Frenchman finished in the unenviable position of 21st place, a mere €801 behind Italian Alessandro Tadini in 20th.
But both Fleetwood and Pavan were all smiles, as they contemplated life on The European Tour next season.

Fleetwood said: “It didn’t look great for me after the bogey on the eighth, and my Dad [Pete] started giving me a little bit of grief. But I had to stick in and grind out a score because winning the Challenge Tour is massive, so if that doesn’t motivate you to try your hardest, then nothing will.
“I battled through it and hit a few good shots coming home, which got me right back into it and put some pressure on Andrea. I had a rush of blood with the putt on the last, but it was great just to put myself into contention to win.

“To be crowned the best player of the year means an awful lot to me. As much as it hurts at the moment to lose I’m still pleased for Andrea, because he’s played well all week. And I’ve got to be delighted with my season overall, because at the start of the year my goal was just to finish in the top 20 of the Rankings, so to finish on top is fantastic.”

Pavan paid tribute to Fleetwood’s battling qualities, and the Italian – who is sponsored by San Domenico Golf – was rightly thrilled to have edged their duel, which seems certain to be repeated on the top tier next term.

He said: “It was really tough out there today. I didn’t really feel in control of my long game, and I struggled in the wind. It was tough to get any momentum going, but I’m very proud of the way I scrambled today, and I really putted well. I made a lot of crucial par putts, and when I holed that one on the last, it was a fantastic feeling. In the end my putting won me the tournament.

“It’s extra special to win here at San Domenico Golf, and to have so many people supporting me was fantastic. I felt like they sucked that putt in on the last! I felt very emotional at the end – to become the first Italian to win the Grand Final, and to do it at the club I’m attached to, is the best feeling in the world. I’m a very happy man.”

Johnston’s closing round of 71 was good enough to finish in a tie for third place on 14 , a result which moved the in-form Englishman from 27th to 15th in the final Rankings. Likewise, Edberg and Walker both carded closing rounds of 70 to climb to 18th and 16th respectively in the Rankings.

November 5, 2011

Fleetwood set for final battle

THE final round today of the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final seems set to be a titanic battle of the young guns, with home hero Andrea Pavan and rising English star Tommy Fleetwood fighting for the right to be crowned the winner of both the season-ending event and the Challenge Tour Rankings.

Pavan, the supremely gifted 22 year old who is sponsored by San Domenico Golf, edged ahead of overnight leader Fleetwood, who understandably struggled to maintain the momentum built up by his sensational round of 61 on day two.

Six birdies in a faultless round of 65 carried Pavan to the head of affairs on 17 under par, one stroke ahead of Fleetwood, who signed for a round of 69.

The 20 year old from Southport, still remains on course to become the youngest winner of the Challenge Tour Rankings, provided he finishes in the top two. But if he were to slip to third place or worse and Pavan prevails, the Roman would follow in the footsteps of his friend and compatriot Edoardo Molinari, winner of the Challenge Tour in 2009.

So the scene is set for a day of high drama in the Puglia region of Italy, especially with strong winds expected to blow in from the Adriatic Sea.
November 3, 2011

Fleetwood on course for tour record

ALTHOUGH he is growing accustomed to breaking records, LancastrianTommy Fleetwood was still taken aback by a round of 61 on the second day of the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final which rocketed him to the top of the leaderboard, and put him in pole position to become the youngest winner of the Challenge Tour Rankings.

The former Walker Cup ace’s status as one of Britain’s brightest young golf talents has been well documented, and he added another thrilling chapter to what is fast developing into a sensational story by taking charge of the season finale with the lowest round to par on this year’s Challenge Tour.

The Southport star’s career low round, which smashed the course record at San Domenico Golf in Puglia, south Italy, contained eight birdies and an eagle three at the 15th hole. His devastating display moved the supremely talented 20 year old to 14-under-par and saw him open up a three-shot gap  with two days of the €330,000 tournament remaining.

If Fleetwood were to add the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final title to his victory at the money-spinning Kazakhstan Open, he would become the youngest Rankings winner in the history of the Challenge Tour, and the second highest money winner after Italian Edoardo Molinari in 2009.

With home favourite Andrea Pavan, who is sponsored by San Domenico Golf, hot on his heels and still in with a chance of usurping rankings leader Sam Little by claiming his second victory of the season, Fleetwood is taking nothing for granted. But the former English Amateur Champion is determined to give his caddie and father Pete a belated birthday present by succeeding Spaniard Alvaro Velasco as the winner of the Rankings.

He said: “That came as a bit of a surprise, because I haven’t been hitting it that well on the range. But I got it going today, and I didn’t really have to hole that much – probably only two of my putts were from more than ten feet. It was just stress-free golf today, although I did start to get slightly twitchy after the eagle on the 15th because I thought a 59 might be on, but it wasn’t to be in the end. When you’re on a roll like that, you just want to keep playing – I wish the third round started now.

“There’s obviously a lot at stake this week, but I’ve felt really relaxed since I arrived. There are still five or six of us in with a realistic chance of winning the Rankings, but it’s a much nicer position to be in than fighting for 20th place. And it’s great that I’ve got my family out here with me to keep me calm and take my mind off the golf.

“It helps having my dad on the bag, although I don’t want to give him too much credit because it might go to his head. He’s taken some credit for the improvement in my putting over the past few months, but I’ve been spending more time on the practice green than anywhere else recently. I’ve been working with Phil Kenyon and he and my dad make a pretty good team, so hopefully the putts keep dropping. I’ve just forgotten about technique and just concentrated more on feeling the putts, and it seems to be working.”

Pavan was suitably impressed by Fleetwood’s precocious display, but the young Italian – whose round of 65 moved him to 11 under par – remains confident of chasing the Englishman down, especially if the wind forecast for Saturday arrives.

November 3 2011

Lancs duo are Yankee Doodle Dandies!

LANCASHIRE hot-shots duo Simon Eaton and Paul Walker took the honours TGI Golf Nike Oven 4ball Championship at Colonial Country Club in the USA.  seeing off the challengers to lift the trophy during an all-

DOUBLE ACT: Paul Walker (standing) and Simon Eaton celebrate

expenses paid trip to the Texas resort. Eaton, professional at Nelson, and Walker, from  Knott End, were two of the eight competitors who made it through to the grand finale following national qualifying events held in the summer.

The  pair just edged the victory over the pristine fairways of the renowned Colonial Country Club – former US Open and t Crowne Plaza Invitational host – winning the better ball stableford by  a single point from second placed father and son team of Leonard and Lee Owens of Killiney and Royal Dublin respectively.

Scots Alastair McLean (Duddingston) and Mark Patchett (Broomieknowe) finished in third, while the wildcard English pairing of James Whittaker (Moor Allerton) and Martyn Huish (North Berwick) came in fourth.

It was the icing on the cake for Eaton who has enjoyed a fantastic year on the events circuit of the TGI Golf Partnership – Europe’s leading golf retail services group, owned by PGA Professionals – having also represented the group at The Ashworth Cup.

“This was the first time I’ve entered the Nike Oven competition, so to win it is a great feeling and really tops off a memorable season for me,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity given to us all by Nike and TGI, the trip was first-class and the hospitality was outstanding.

“The Colonial Country Club was, as you’d expect, an incredible golf course. I was told beforehand that it wasn’t the longest course on the PGA Tour circuit – if that was the case I would dread to play the longest!”

During their week-long trip the TGI group were also treated to a two-day tour of The Oven – Nike Golf’s hi-tech research and development facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where they were given an exclusive preview of the new 20Xi Golf Ball.

The TGI Nike Oven 4ball Championship is one of many high-quality events staged by the TGI Golf Partnership stages in conjunction with its Partner Suppliers every year.

October 20 2011

Taylor’s a six hit as he wins Lancs title again

BARRY Taylor captured the Lancashire PGA Matchplay Championship for an unprecedented sixth time in seven seasons at Royal Lytham and St Annes but not without a fight.

It was nip and tuck all the way with the 33-year-old Houghwood teaching professional eventually overcoming Manchester Hopwood assistant Matthew Hough 2&1.

And six proved a magic number twice over for Taylor because that’s how

CHAMPION: Barry Taylor receives the trophy from PGA North Region captain Jeff Mathews

many occasions he has claimed the county’s Order of Merit.

“I knew I could not afford to make many mistakes because Matthew was really up for this. I drove and putted well and the fact that I was never more than one hole ahead showed how close the match was,” he said.

Hough, 26, who has just completed his three-year PGA training, was quickest out of the blocks, a par at the second putting him into the lead.

Taylor, a member of the Great Britain and Ireland PGA Cup side beaten by the United States at Loch Lomond resort The Carrick two years ago, reached the turn one up before bogeying the 10th to hand Hough a lifeline.

The pair were deadlocked until the 14th, where Hough dropped a shot then conceded the 17th after miss-hitting his approach.

Earlier, Taylor eased to a 3&1 semi-final win over Haigh Hall’s Martin Longshaw while Hough beat Bolton Old Links assistant Mark Hancock on the home green.

It’s been another successful season for Taylor who has racked up 10 assorted wins and finished seventh in the PGA North Region Order of Merit.

“This was the biggest one,” he stressed, revealing that he planned to play EuroPro Tour next season then try for his European Tour card in 2013 after 10 fruitless attempts to qualify in 12 years.

Meanwhile, he also enjoys coaching and derives much satisfaction from teaching brain injury victims at the Transitional Rehabilitation Unit at Haydock.

October 18 2011

Jones puts his back into it to land Cheshire title    

THE old adage “Beware the injured golfer” rang true as Michael Jones won the Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales Matchplay Championship at Wilmslow.

After finally shrugging off dogged resistance from Hawarden professional Alex Rowland, the 27-year-old Carden Park assistant revealed that he’d been struggling with a back problem for the past three months.

CHAMPION: Michael Jones

“I’ve been receiving treatment from a muscle imbalance and I probably won’t play again for a few more weeks to ensure I don’t do any more damage,” he said.

Jones admitted that he felt no ill-effects as he first eclipsed former winner Tim Maxwell, the Knutsford professional, 4&3 in the semi-finals then dispatched Rowland 2&1.

“I was pleased with both my performances because I’ve only played seven times since early August,” he said.

“That was also the number of events I competed in on the EuroPro Tour this season but I missed every cut so I’m hoping this victory will change my fortunes next year.”

Jones, who also retained the Skycaddie PGA North Region Assistants’ Championship at Ilkley earlier in the campaign, added that his confidence had received a further boost after consulting putting guru Phil Kenyon.

And it showed as his skill on the greens helped to keep Rowland in check as he powered to a three holes lead after four.

“The secret is to make all the crucial putts,” he said.

Pity Rowland, who beat Sandiway’s Gareth Jones by one hole in the semis, didn’t heed that advice – he took three to get down at the short ninth after reducing the deficit to one and despite boxing a bunker shot for a winning birdie at the 16th, it was all over at the next.

October 13 2011

Brooks off to flying start  but more gloom for Dougherty

JACK Brooks has got his professional career off to a flying start by winning his  first event in Spain.

The former Lancashire County player and boys’ champion was competing on the Gecko Euro Pro Tour and won play-off against former England amateur ace Dale Whitnell.

Brooks pocketed  €2,000 – not a bad start to his pro career!

Meanwhile, Shaw Hill’s falling star Nick Dougherty – another former Lancashire amateur – finished bottom of the leaderboard in the first round of the Portugal Masters with a 78 which included triple bogey at the ninth and a double at the next hole.

Three birdies over the last eight spared him further embarrassment.

Dougherty’s made only one cut this year and looks certain to return to Tour School.

Meanwhile, a brilliant run of seven birdies in eight holes helped James Kingston claim the  lead.

The 45 year old South African opened with an eight under par 64 at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course to lead by one from in-form Dane Thomas Björn, Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

October 12 2011

Fleetwood casts his net for more success

LANCASHIRE ace Tommy Fleetwood is planning to continue recent wave of success at the Roma Golf Open, which starts tomorrow, after an unbelievable past month saw him win the European Challenge Tour’s biggest prize before mixing it with the world’s very best in the Home of Golf.

After taking control of the rankings following his brilliant victory in the Kazakhstan Open, the Southport youngster was given a taste of life at the top level in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where he drank copiously from one of The European Tour’s most lucrative wells by finishing in a tie for fifth place at St Andrews and winning a cheque for €126,000 – more than double his first place prize in Kazakhstan.

HOT SHOT: Tommy Fleetwood

That superb performance, where Fleetwood finished ahead of World Number One Luke Donald and his final round playing partner Padraig Harrington, has given the 20 year old a massive injection of confidence as he heads into the final two Challenge Tour events of the season looking to cement is position as the Challenge Tour Number One.

“I still want to win the Challenge Tour so there is a bit of pressure on me but it is the nice kind of pressure where I have secured my card for next year and I am chasing a really nice prize,” smiled Fleetwood.

“There are a lot of guys in worse positions than me at the moment so I can’t have any complaints about where I am. I think the victory in Kazakhstan was so important and it had the snowball effect in terms of my confidence and really helped me got to the Dunhill Links and perform well.

“The main thing that has changed recently is my putting has really improved. Obviously the results improve as a result of that and the confidence grows and grows – I am really enjoying it at the moment and I want to continue that for as long as possible.

“I think the performance in the Dunhill Links will be massive for me going into next season. To outscore guys like Luke and Padraig – and to play with Padraig during the final round – was an amazing experience and I will take so much from that going forward.”

Fleetwood’s immediate task, however, is to resist the challenges of compatriot Sam Little and the rest of the chasing pack from the Challenge Tour Rankings over the course of the final two events of the season, starting at the Olgiata Golf Club this week.

While he vies to win the Rankings outright, the Roma Golf Open represents the last chance for those Challenge Tour players outside the top 45 to join that all-important number who will contest the Apulia San Domenico Grand Final in a fortnight. It is there that the top 20 players in the final Rankings will be rewarded with a place on The 2012 European Tour.

October 2 2011

Danny’s the boy in Isle of Man!

DANNY Wardrop claimed his maiden PGA North Region title when he won the Pokerstars Manx Classic at Ramsey.

WINNER: Danny Wardrop

And he’s hoping it will serve as a springboard to the European Tour which has been his burning ambition since he turned professional eight years ago.

The Didsbury-attached journey man experienced the occasional flirtation with the big time but finishing 25th in the 2009 Australian Open has been his only high point so far.

“I failed to make a cut in the handful of events I’ve played in since but I won’t give up trying to win my card,” said Wardrop who has already cleared the Tour School second hurdle.

He picked up his biggest cheque of the year, £2,500, at Ramsey where he beat his co-overnight leader David Wilcock by a shot after the second round and final round was reduced to nine holes because of fog.

The former England amateur international covered the loop in 34 strokes, thanks to a brace of early birdies, to add to his opening 68 for a three-under-par total.

Wardrop, who missed the early part of the year after undergoing an operation on a big toe, lost his Challenge Tour ranking last season and is determined to win it back this winter.

“I’ve been playing on the Europro Tour but I feel ready to step up to the next level again. It’s difficult making ends meet and I would struggle to survive without sponsorship but I won’t give up my dream.

“I will stop believing in myself when I accept I’m not good enough. Then I might consider the option of going for my PGA qualification and taking the club professional route.

“I regret not having done it earlier but when you’re young you always believe you could become the next Tiger Woods.”

Gathurst assistant Wilcock was left to rue the missed chances as he reeled off nine straight pars.

“I was nervous early in the round because I knew I was in with a chance of my first North Region success but when I settled down I had no luck on the greens with several birdie attempts shaving the hole.

“But this performance will give me a lot of incentive for next season,” he said.

LEADING SCORES: 102 Danny Wardrop (Didsbury) 68 34; 103 David Wilcock (Gathurst) 68 35; 104 Aran Wainwright (Mid Yorks) 70 34; 105 Jonathan Cheetham (unatt) 75 30, Adrian Ambler (Moor Allerton) 70 35; 107 Daniel Haughian (Golf Works) 73 34, Chris Crowder (Lee Park); 108 Rory Walsh (Ashton-on-Mersey 78 30, Michael Brooks (Malton & Norton) 74 34, Richard Bean (Wychwood Park) 73 35, Barry Taylor (Houghwood) 72 36, David Shacklady (Mossock Hall) 71 37

October 2 2011

Baldwin breaks his drought in Spain and heads for European Tour

TROPHY GLITTER: Matthew Baldwin

MATTHEW Baldwin, who won the Lancashire County Championship in 2004 and 2007, captured his debut Challenge Tour title after overcoming Frenchman Julien Guerrier in a tense play-off at the Fred Olsen Challenge de España. The 25 year old – who hails from Southport, the same town as t Rankings leader Tommy Fleetwood – kept his cool in the searing heat of the Canary Islands to see off Guerrier with a par at the third extra hole, after both players had finished on 21 under par at Tecina Golf, in La Gomera.

Baldwin’s victory secured him a maiden campaign on The European Tour next season after the €24,000 winner’s cheque catapulted him to seventh place in the Challenge Tour Rankings.

The Royal Birkdale player had started the day one shot behind Lloyd Kennedy, but soon overtook his compatriot with birdies at the third, seventh and ninth holes to turn in 33. His only bogey of the day, at the long par three 14th hole, briefly checked his momentum. But he rallied with a birdie at the 17th hole, and sunk a ten footer for par on the last to sign for a round of 68 and join Guerrier on 21 under par.

Both men made steady pars at the first two play-off holes, but after Guerrier had flown the green with his approach shot on the third extra hole and lipped out with his par putt, Baldwin was left with two putts from 15 feet to secure his maiden victory.

He said: “This feels great. It’s been a tough day, but I’m delighted with how it’s finished. I started holing some really good putts at the beginning of my round, then they stopped dropping and I thought I might have missed my chance. But I holed a great putt for birdie on the 17th green, and another great one for par on the 18th to get me into the play-off.

“The play-off was obviously fairly nerve-wracking, but I’m just so pleased I managed to hold my nerve and come through it. I’m not sure if I’m more excited about the winning the tournament, or getting my European Tour card for next season. I can’t wait to get out there now.”

September 30, 2011

Wardrop and Wilcock lead Manx Classic

DANNY Wardrop put his best foot forward to march into a share of the first round lead in the Pokerstars Manx Classic at wind-swept Ramsey.

The strapping 6ft 4ins Didsbury-attached professional missed the early part of the year after undergoing an operation on an arthritic big toe.

“I had two screws inserted in the joint but I feel my game is getting back to where I want it to be,” he said after posting a two-under-par 68 matched Gathurst assistant David Wilcock.

Wardrop, 28, who plays mostly on the EuroPro Tour, was also relieved to end what he described as a first day “nightmare” which has haunted him for over the last few weeks.

“I have made some bad starts and must have been 20 over par for six opening rounds but 15 under for the second,” he said.

“I have been putting too much pressure on myself but maybe I can leave that behind me.”

Wardrop, who has qualified for the second stage of the European Tour School, picked up three of his four birdies on the outward half as did 27-year-old Wilcock.

“I’m used to shaping the ball in the wind, although I enjoyed the best of the conditions,” he said. “I also putted well.”

Wilcock juggles playing three times a week with running the shop.

“It’s all a matter of finding the right balance,” he added.

Aran Wainwright, from West Yorks, and Moor Allerton’s Adrian Amber are two shots off the pace.

LEADING SCORES: 68 David Wilcock (Gathurst), Danny Wardrop (Didsbury); 70 Adrian Ambler (Moor Allerton), Aran Wainwright (Mid Yorks); 71 Oliver Smith (Altrincham Driving Range), Chris Crowder (Lee Park), David Shacklady (Mossock Hall); 72 Barry Taylor (Houghwood); 73 Paul Stoller (Ulverston), Andrew Dyson (Ramsey), Richard Bean (Wychwood Park), Will Barnes (Garstang), Steve Parry (NWGA), J Mathews (Mytton Fold); 74 Michael Brooks (Malton & Norton); Allyn Laing (Mount Murray), Daniel Haughian  (Golf Works), Mark Bradley (Chorley).

September 29 2011

Champion Wesselingh sweeps the board 

 PAUL Wesselingh completed a remarkable hat-trick of titles as the inaugural 1836tour.com campaign reached a dramatic climax at West Lancs. The Kedleston Park professional, 50 next month, not only won the championship after a three-man play-off over the testing Blundellsands links but clinched the Order of Merit and the senior version to boot!

TOP MAN: Paul Wesselingh

Westhoughton-born Wesselingh, whose previous clubs include Northenden and Chorley, tied with European Tour rookie Matthew Nixon from Ashton-under-Lyne and recently crowned De Vere Leeds Cup and Lancashire PGA champion David Smith on five-under-par 67.

And he saw off his rivals at the first sudden death hole with a perfectly executed wedge from the rough to a foot for a tap-in birdie which earned him £3,000 in an event sponsored by Chubby Chandler’s ISM group.

“I’ve been playing well for the last couple of months,” said Wesselingh who also shared first prize in the opening fixture at West Lancs in March.

I hit nearly every fairway and my putting was hot, especially from long range.”

But his delight was a double disappointment for Swinton Park’s Smith because it also cost him the merit crown.

Starting the day deadlocked at the top of the table with Wesselingh, who’s also the PGA Midland Region Order of Merit winner, he finished 40 points adrift as Didsbury assistant Tom Murray claimed third spot 459 off the pace.

Prestbury’s Joe Armitt took the amateur prize with a 70 as James McCormick, from Styal, topped the section’s Order of Merit.

All told, 22 out of 36 professionals shot par or better.

Meanwhile, the tour is running pro-ams at Hesketh on October 17 and West Lancs on October 31 and more 36-hole events are planned for next season.

Full details on 1836tour.com

September 28 2011

Eagles land Howarth share of spoils

 JAMIE Howarth took advantage of local knowledge to share top prize with

TIED UP: Jamie Howarth and Peter Richardson

Peter Richardson in the 1836tour fixture at Stockport where he was attached before moving to De Vere Mottram Hall.

His four-under-par 67 included three eagles, his most spectacular at the par four fourth where he holed his approach shot.

His playing companion Richardson, from Carlisle club Eden, marked down five birdies while Styal’s Harry Sexton won the amateur section with a 69.

Meanwhile, 77 players battle it out in the tour championship, the last of 18 events, at West Lancs tomorrow which carries a £3,000 first prize and sponsored by ISM boss Chubby Chandler who won the Lancashire Amateur Championship at the Blundellsands links in 1973.

It will also decide the Order of Merit with Kedlestone Park’s Paul Wesselingh and this week’s Lancashire PGA Championship winner David Smith, from Swinton Park, level on points.

Former Chorley and Northenden pro Wesselingh, the newly-crowned PGA Midland Region Order of Merit winner, has already won the senior prize while James McCormick, from Styal, has clinched the amateur title.

 

September 23 2011

Flawless Smith claims Lancs title again

DAVID Smith captured the Lancashire PGA Championship for the third time in five years at Accrington with a flawless five-under-par 65.

It was the fourth title in a productive season for the Swinton Park man who last month won the De Vere Leeds Cup, professional golf’s oldest trophy, at Oulton Hall.

Yet despite all his recent success, which includes reaching the European Tour School second qualifying stage, Smith revealed he was booking a session this week with his coach Dave Screeton at Marriott Worsley Park.

CAPTAINS FANTASTIC: Jeff Mathews and David Smith

“I’m playing in the Manx Classic which starts on Friday and although I’ve no problems with my game I want him to reinforce what I’m doing,” he said.

“I believe the best time to have a lesson is when you’re playing well.”

Smith has no obvious problems on that score after reeling off five birdies on the slick Accrington greens.

“I got out of position three times but pitched and putted to save par on each occasion,” he added.

James Barr, from Chilli Dip Academy in Blackrod, and Hesketh assistant Martin Edge, tied second on 68.

And Mossock Hall’s David Shacklady, leading points scorer for Great Britain and Ireland in the PGA Cup defeat by the United States in California two weeks ago, signed for a 69 matched by PGA North Region captain Jeff Mathews, from Mytton Fold.

Coincidentally, Smith is also the Lancashire PGA captain.

LEADING SCORES: 65 David Smith (Swinton Park); 68 James Barr (Chilli Dip Academy), Martin Edge (Hesketh); 69 Jeff Mathews (Mossock Hall), David Shacklady (Mossock Hall), Will Barnes (Garstang); 70 Barry Taylor (Houghwood), Martin Longshaw (Haigh Hall), Will Hancock (Morecambe), Phil Kelly (St Annes Old Links).

September 23, 2011

 

PGA Cup ace Shacklady heads Pokerstars Manx Classic charge

 

DAVID Shacklady, leading points scorer with two wins and a half from five matches as GB&I lost 17½ – 8½ to the United States in the PGA Cup in California, heads a 41-strong field in the Pokerstars Manx Classic at Ramsey next week (Sept 30 Oct 1).

The Mossock Hall attached professional, who has notched up in excess of 200 assorted victories in a career stretching over more than 20 years, is tarseeking to repeat his success at Castletown in 2003.

But the darts enthusiast will have to be on top of his game if he hopes to hit the bullseye with several formidable challengers lined up who are also chasing points in the final PGA North Region Order of Merit event of the season.

De Vere Leeds Cup winner David Smith, from Swinton Park, is 10 points in front of Shacklady who is the only player who can overhaul him.

And there’s even more at stake because the leading three players will go into the mix for the end-of-season Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey in November where places in next year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth are up for grabs.

Also determined to have a say in that matter is Aran Wainwright, professional at Mid Yorkshire, who won the Spirotech Open at Marriott Worsley Park two months ago.

Meanwhile, Steve Parry who runs the North West Golf Academy at Hart Common, defends the Manx crown he captured last season when he also won the Leeds Cup and the Order of merit.

Former Castletown pro Michael Brooks, from Malton and Norton, returns to the island where Mount Murray’s Allyn Laing is among the local hopes in a four-man team event carrying a £15,000 prize-fund.

First round draw on pga.info (North Region Tournaments)


September 21, 2011 

Cheetham has the Extra factor

JONATHAN Cheetham won the Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales Open after a three-way play-off at Mobberley then revealed he was about to draw a line under the season because he’d been unhappy with his game.

“I hadn’t felt comfortable for some time and I was planning to spend the winter working on my swing,” said the 44-year-old Styal-attached professional.

But it seems his coach Mark Pearson has already solved the problem.

“I saw him for a lesson a few days ago and his advice has given me back my confidence,” he explained after denying assistants Tim Rich, from Royal Lytham and St Annes, and Ellesmere’s Martyn Hamer, after they had matched his two-under-par total.

Cheetham bunkered his seven iron to the 170-yard 18th, the first sudden death hole, but splashed out to three feet then drained the putt as his rivals bogeyed.

He also saved par at the same hole and from a similar distance in normal time after executing a delicate pitch over a bunker where there was no margin for error.

“That was the key hole and my short game was put to the test,” said Cheetham who recently switched to a cack-handed putting method.

“It was a difficult final day because of a strong wind but I stuck in there.”

Yet the former Manchester Open and Leeds Cup winner almost missed his first round tee-time after arriving at the course with five minutes to spare because of a traffic jam.

“I’d no time for a practice swing,” he added after posting a pair of 66s which earned him the North Wales and Cheshire Open title to sit alongside the Lancashire version he won 13 years ago.

Meanwhile, Sandbach-based Bathgate, who supply sand to some of the world’s top courses, are also sponsoring the Cheshire and North Wales County Matchplay Championship which reaches a climax at Wilmslow next month.

LEADING SCORES (Par=67): 132 Jonathan Cheetham (Styal) 66 66, Tim Rich (Royal Lytham & St Annes) 65 67, Martyn Hamer (Ellesmere) 64 68 (Cheetham won at 1st extra hole); 133 Barry Taylor (Houghwood) 68 65, Steve Parry (NWGA) 67 66, Phil Kelly (St Annes Old Links) 65 68;  135 Freddy Valenti (Pryors Hayes) 68 67; 136 Tim Rastall (De Vere Mottram Hall) 66 70, David Smith (Swinton Park) 63 73; 137 Lee Rooke (Vale of Llangollen) 68 69, Rory Walsh (Ashton-on-Mersey) 67 70.

September 20, 2011 

Smith stays on a roll 

DAVID Smith continued his impressive run of form by surging into a one shot lead in the first round of the Bathgate Cheshire & North Wales Open at Mobberley.

The Swinton Park assistant last month won the De Vere Leeds Cup, professional golf’s oldest trophy, qualified for the European Tour School second stage at the weekend then on Tuesday tied third in the Rocar Moores and Copley Fixby Classic where he birdied the last five holes And he produced another nap hand of them at Mobberley his four-under-par 63, crucially picking up a shot at the 18th to keep Ellesmere assistant Martyn Hamer at arm’s length.

Smith, a former Manchester Open champion, admitted that clearing the Tour School hurdle at Dundonald Links in Scotland helped to keep his game sharp.

“It was a bit of a grind up there but I had to stay focused and I’ve carried on in the same frame of mind this week,” said the PGA North Region Order of Merit leader.

He endured the worst of the weather at the well-presented Mobberley course in a £3,500 tournament which has a new sponsor in the Bathgate Group and for the first time has been was thrown open to Lancashire professionals.

The Sandbach-based company, who supply sand to some of the world’s top courses, are also supporting next month’s county matchplay championship at Wilmslow.

Former double PGA National Assistants’ champion Matthew Tottey, from North Wales, is among four players two strokes off the lead.

And 2008 winner Andrew Barnett, from North Wales Driving Range, is one further back.

LEADING SCORES (Par=67): 63 David Smith (Swinton Park); 64 Martyn Hamer (Ellesmere); 65 Matthew Tottey (North Wales), Tim Rich (Royal Lytham & St Annes), Phil Kelly (St Annes Old Links), Richard Booth (Hale); 66 Andrew Barnett (North Wales Golf Range), Tim Rastall (De Vere Mottram Hall), Jonathan Cheetham (Styal); 67 Mike Jones (De Vere Carden Park), Rory Walsh (Ashton-on-Mersey), Jeff Mathews (Mytton Fold), Steve Parry (SPGA), James Cunliffe (Ormskirk).

September 19, 2011

Clark cashes in on Tour setback

DAVID Clark retained the Rocar Moores and Copley Fixby Classic title at Huddersfield then attributed his success to failure in last week’s European Tour School qualifier!

“I made a steady start but finished badly and missed by half a dozen shots. I was depressed for a few days but not trying too hard playing in this event seemed to relax me,” he said after adding a 69 to his opening 67 for a six-under-par in total.

Last year the Morpeth teaching professional prevailed after a five-man play-off but this time he showed a clean pair of heels to the chasing pack to win by two shots from Ringway-attached David Brunton.

He overcame a wobble when he bogeyed the 16th, making sure with a birdied on the home green which he eagled the day before.

The PGA North Region Order of Merit ranking competition was played in pro-am format which Clark admitted also helped him to overcome the disappointment of falling at the Tour School hurdle at his seventh attempt.

“My team members were all from Morpeth and they cheered me up. I also like the course,” he added.

Former European Tour player Brunton, lying second overnight, made a late charge to keep the status quo by picking up shots of the last three holes.

And De Vere Leeds Cup winner David Smith, from Swinton Park, also made a late charge as he finished with five successive birdies to tie third with Allerthorpe Park’s James Drinkall.

September 19, 2011

Shacklady shines but USA retain PGA Cup

LANCASHIRE hotshot David Shacklady was leading points scorer with two wins and a half from five matches as GB&I lost 17½ – 8½ to the United States in the PGA Cup at CordeValle, California. It was a repeat of the scoreline at Loch Lomond resort The Carrick two years ago. Needing victory in eight of the 10 singles at the start of the final day’s play, it proved a trans-Atlantic mission impossible for Russell’s Weir’s team.

TRIUMPHANT: Mossock Hall’s David Shacklady makes a fist of it

The US, requiring just three points to win outright for a 17th time in the history of the matches, swept the singles by 7-3 in another impressive display over the Robert Trent Jones Jnr course.

Marty Jertson posted the first red on the leaderboard with an emphatic 5&4 victory against Craig Goodfellow including eagles on the par-5 sixth and par-4 10th holes where he holed from 140 yards.

Danny Balin in the second match birdied the last to pip Chris Gill (Exeter) with Sonny Skinner clinching the decisive half against Stuart Little(Minchinhampton) to ensure the trophy was retained.

GB&I registered only two wins but both were impressive with Shacklady inflicting a 3&2 defeat on David Hutsell, the reigning US PGA Professional champion, and former Romiley pro Rob Giles overturning a three hole deficit with four birdies on the spin from the turn to  win one up against four time PGA Cup player Mike Small.

Simon Edwards (Windermere) scored GB&I’s other half point against Rob McClellan. Shacklady, from Mossock Hall, said: “Three and two flatters him (David Hutsell), I hit it inside him eight times in the first 10 holes.

“I missed a tiddler on 12 which I was annoyed about because it was the first time it was his honour and I’d set myself the target of him never getting hitting first. I have a lot of respect for the Americans, great players and nice guys, but when I have a club in my hand I want to destroy them.

“The lads feel we have not got the best out of it but the only time the Americans missed putts was when we put them under pressure and we didn’t do that enough. I’ve played in two Opens and thought it would never get better than that but this is up there and I will take a lot more memories from this week without a shadow of a doubt.”

September 18, 2011

Clark’s off to a flyer

DAVID Clark made a perfect start to defending his Rocar Moores and Copley Fixby Classic title with a four-under-par 67 at the Huddersfield course.

And the Morpeth teaching professional staged a grandstand finish with an eagle on the final hole.

He tagged it on to three birdies to take a three shot lead into the final round over fellow North East player Paul Fiddes, from Matfen Hall; Brookdale assistant Grant Hamerton and Ringway-attached David Brunton.

Full scores and second round draw on pga.info September 17, 2011

Barnett targets Open glory

ANDREW Barnett heads an impressive field assembled for the 36-hole Bathgate Cheshire and North Wales Open which starts at Mobberley on Tuesday (Sept 20).

The Macclesfield-born former Welsh amateur international, who won the title in three years ago, lost by a shot to 2009 PGA Cup team-mate Will Barnes in this week’s pro-am at Aberdovey and Royal St David’s, his home course.

But he will have been inspired by that performance as he seeks his first regional win of the season after several other close finishes.

The £3,500 tournament, sponsored by Sandbach-based Bathgate Group who are also supporting next month’s county matchplay championship at Wilmslow, has been thrown open to Lancashire players for the first time.

Leading the Red Rose challenge is Steve Parry, who topped the North Region Order of Merit last year.

The Bolton-born professional, who runs the North West Golf Academy at Hart Common, is among 20 Lancastrians in the line-up including serial winner Barry Taylor, from Houghwood, and former North Region champion Mark Bradley, from Chorley.

And if one of them prevails, he will match the unprecedented achievement by John Wells who became the first Yorkshireman to win the James Brearley Lancashire Open at Heron’s Reach five weeks ago.

The title could also go to another “outsider” because host club professional Gary Donnison is from Newcastle!

GB&I trail in PGA Cup

GREAT Britain & Ireland’s quest to regain the PGA Cup was dented on the first day after the United States swept to a commanding 6-2 lead at CordeValle, California.

The hosts edged a tightly contested morning fourball session 2 ½ – 1 ½ but surged ahead with a devastating display in the afternoon foursomes, routing Russell Weir’s team 3 ½ – 1/2.

Battling duo David Shacklady and Simon Edwards, out first, salvaged a half point on the last hole but GB&I require a huge change in fortunes on day two to haul themselves back into the match.

The last three pairings in the foursomes were emphatically dispatched 6&5, winning just one of 39 holes combined.

Weir, a veteran of eight PGA Cup appearances himself, will need to draw on all his experience to galvanise his side but insisted there was still a long way to go and believes the half point gleaned by Edwards and Shacklady could be crucial.

“That could help the momentum tomorrow, as I say it’s a long dance, there’s still 18 points to play for,” said.

“We’re not panicking, anything can happen in golf. The Americans are always strong, a few wee things happened that went against us today and hopefully we can turn that round. It is going to be difficult but it can be done.”

Edwards and Shacklady, who went down 2&1 at the hands of David Hutsell and Mark Sheftic  in the morning fourballs, were upbeat after pegging back Brad Lardon and Sonny Skinner.

Mossock Hall pro Shacklady sealed the fightback with a brave three wood over water to find the par five 18th in two while Lardon’s approach bounced into the water.

“That was harder than hitting the opening tee shot, it was horrible but we had to go for it and it was just fortunate they got into a bit of trouble,” said Shacklady.

“It’s been a tough day but we came up against two strong sides. The general consensus is that the lads feel they haven’t holed their fair share of putts, that can’t continue, at some point that is going to change.”

Team-mate Edwards from Windermere Golf Club added: “We will regroup tonight and come out all guns blazing tomorrow and try and hole some putts.”

Ganton’s Gary Brown and Cherry Burton’s John Wells displayed true Yorkshire grit in the morning fourballs after coming from two down with four to play to win 1UP against Danny Balin and Scott Erdmann, the match turning on the back of a bunker shot by Brown on the 15th splashing out to two feet on a downhill slope.

“Scrap and grit, that’s all that got us through that,” said Wells. “They played better than us early doors and should have been four or five up.

“We didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance then Gary made that up and down on 15 and that turned the match.”

Minchinhampton’s Stuart Little and Exeter’s Chris Gill grabbed the other half but were disappointed to share the points after being one up on the 18th tee.

The day got worse when they lost to Balin and Scott Erdmann in the foursomes.

“We got off to a poor start, they got their momentum up and we never really got on the front foot and got battered,” said Little.

“But we’ve got two more days of golf and we know that is a lot in golf and a lot can happen.”

His partner Gill added: “It’s never nice to play poorly or get beaten but if you’re going to do it it’s best to do it on the first day of the tournament.

“Team spirit and morale is still good and maybe it is just America’s day to day.”

Former Romiley pro Rob Giles (Greenore) and Craig Goodfellow (Carlisle Driving Range) out last in the morning were denied a half in the fourballs when Rob McClellan birdied the 18 and America maintained the momentum in the afternoon to seize the initiative.

Giles stressed the need for improvement: “We made hard work of it for ourselves and it’s a hard game to play anyway so losing holes to pars isn’t good enough and they are good players.”

September 15

Ace of clubs Shacklady set for PGA Cup clash

FAIL to prepare, prepare to fail is often quoted in sport and Great Britain & Ireland’s David Shacklady is certainly not going to come up short in that category when the 25th PGA Cup matches get  underway on Friday, September 16.

The Mossock Hall pro has arrived at CordeValle, San Martin, armed with four putters and within hours of arriving in California was browsing the pro shop looking for another.

Shacklady is part of Russell Weir’s 10-man team aiming to wrestle back the PGA Cup from the United States who defend the title they won in convincing fashion at The Carrick on Loch Lomond two years ago.

“I’ve brought four putters but that is not that many for me,” he said.

“I’m always on the lookout and have even checked out the pro shop here. I’m one of those golfers that if I’m not seeing it going in I’ll swap and change.”

Shacklady, who warmed up by winning a county darts match for Lancashire on the eve of jetting out to California with the Great Britain & Ireland team, is revelling in the atmosphere surrounding the 25th PGA Cup which like his pinpoint arrows is hitting the mark.

“It has been amazing to be honest, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done,” he said.

“There is a similar sort of build up that you would experience at an Open which I’ve managed to do a couple of times but is almost more special given the fact there is nine other fellas involved who are friends really, and it is a wonderful atmosphere.”

Close friend Simon Edwards from Windermere Golf Club is also on the team. For years Edwards has regaled Shacklady with tales of the biennial contest and having finally savoured it for himself admits he is absolutely right in his assessment of it as an experience.

“Simon always told me about it but until you’ve actually been here and seen this it’s not something you can describe. Now I’ll probably find myself saying exactly the same things and I can appreciate what he has been saying.”

September 6, 2011

Lucky break for Scott

DISLEY assistant professional Scott Jackson would not have realised it at the time that fracturing a bone in his hand would turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

He’d been chancing his arm in the United States for two seasons then when he came home played the EuroPro and Futures tours, logging several high finishes.

But after his accident he decided to join the PGA to get some qualifications behind him.

And he is celebrating his maiden win after defying strong winds and driving rain to claim the Harold Lees Trophy at Sheffield club Dore & Totley.

Stockport-born Jackson, 28, in his first year as a trainee pro, went round in 71 and 73 and was the only competitor to finish on level par over two testing days.

“It was never going to be easy in those conditions but I hit the ball solidly and birdying the three par five holes in the first round was important,” he said after his four shot victory over Lindrick’s Luke Allen.

His win did not come as a surprise because he has made five out of six cuts in North Region Order of Merit events this season to move into 27th place and also finished 10th in the Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship at East Sussex.

LEADING SCORES (Par = 72): 144 Scott Jackson (Disley) 71 73; 148 Luke Allen (Lindrick) 73 75; 150 Gareth Jones (Sandiway) 79 71, Tom Minshull (Delamere Forest) 70 80; 151 Chris Clarke (unatt) 77 74; 152 Aaron Hodkin (Wheatley) 79 73, James Kelly (West Bradford) 79 73.

Full scores pga.info (North Region Tournaments)

3 responses to this post.

  1. David, nice to see what some of the lesser known pros are doing. Great to catch up with them through your pages, well done. Michael Yates.

    Reply

  2. Thanks Mike, and I’m sure the lads will appreciated your comment.

    Reply

  3. Usually I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.

    Reply

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