GOLF: UP-AND-COMING golf professionals from across Europe are flocking to Wychwood Park Golf Course to compete in The Countryside Properties Golf Classic 2003, which starts tomorrow.
Play in the three-day tournament, part of the PGA EuroPro Tour, gets under way at 7.30am and, following the cut on Friday evening, the final round will be played on Saturday.
The competition will feature PGA European-credited professionals such as current leader of the Order of Merit Tom Whitehouse and former European Tour player Paddy Gribben, while Wychwood Park professional Frank Kiddie and Crewe starlet James Holmes are among the others who will be battling it out for the £10,0000 first prize.
James, who celebrated his 25th birthday last week, can't wait to get started.
'The course is only a four-minute drive from my home and I know a lot of people who will be coming down to watch. It will help having so many people I know walking the course with me as it helps me concentrate.
'I've played the course three times since it opened. It's a good course and I'm really looking forward to it.'
James is currently 54th in the Order of Merit and hoping to improve on his 41st-placed finish last year.
He added: 'I am enjoying playing on the Tour. There are 162 players taking part in each event and there is a good atmosphere.
'Last year I had a seventh-place finish and a couple in the top 20. If I could win the event at Wychwood Park, it would be absolutely awesome.'
James has recently secured sponsorship from Crewe-based company Mornflake Oats and will be wearing shirts and waterproofs bearing the company's logo during the tournament.
'I wrote off to several local companies, including Morn-flake, and then found out their financial director, David Waugh, was a member at Crewe Golf Club and they agreed to give me £2,000 worth of sponsorship.
'It costs me about £500 to enter each event so Mornflake will set me up for four tournaments.'
Spectators can gain entry to the tournament free of charge and no ticket is required.
The 18-hole course is located at Wychwood Park, Countryside Properties' exclusive private residential community, set within picturesque parkland between the villages of Weston, Hough and Betley.
Built to PGA European Tour standards, it is considered to be one of the toughest on the circuit.
Robin Hoyles, managing director of Countryside Properties' strategic projects division, said: 'Wychwood Park is unique in the North West and we are delighted that the PGA has chosen it as the venue for this event. We hope all golfing enthusiasts will turn out to support it.'
Highlights will be shown across Europe on Sky Sports next month.
Jon Cann, golf manager at Wychwood Park, said: 'We are all looking forward to a great tournament and hope to see as many people as possible coming down to offer their support to the players and enjoy the excellent facilities we have here.'