ROOKIE James Holmes is convinced he made the right decision to turn professional after wintering in South Africa.

The 23-year-old joined the full-time ranks after opting to compete on the Sunshine Summer Tour in South Africa in November.

And after enjoying his stint on the African courses, he is now preparing for this month's Portuguese Open.

"I'm glad I made the decision to turn pro. It was something I had been thinking of doing for a while and when I found out about the tour in South Africa, I decided the time was right.

"I had a great time in South Africa and although I wasn't as successful as I would have liked, I managed to put a few grand in the bank account and the experience of playing and practising with professionals was good for me."

Next on the agenda for the Crewe Golf Club member is qualifying for the P G A Euro Pro Tour, but first James has unfinished business to attend to.

As winner of the 2000 Portugeuse Amateur Open, he earned the right to compete in last year s Portuguese Open, but a mix-up by the organisers meant he was not invited.

"I found out five days before I was due to fly out that there had been a mistake and I had not been included in the draw. This year, they have given me a professional entry to make up for it so although I was disappointed last year, I am now chuffed.

"The event takes place at Vale do Lobo on the Algarve from April 4-7 and it is an area I know quite well because I spent two months working on a driving range in Vale do Lobo last year so I am really looking forward to it."

And as soon as he returns from Portugal, James will be heading for Bedford on April11 for pre-qualifying for the Euro Pro Tour.

Anyone interested in sponsoring James can contact him via Crewe Golf Club.