CHRIS HANSON could challenge for a place in some of Europe’s richest tournanments in 2009 – if he climbs high in The Rock .
The Rock, which runs for three days at Matfen Hall, Northumberland from Monday, is the richest event on the PGA North Region circuit with a £30,000 prize fund and is a counter along with other majors, the Leeds Cup, North Region championship and MEN Open, for the Order of Merit.
A big incentive to shine is that the leading three players in the Order of Merit qualify for the Srixon PGA play-offs at Royal Liverpool on October 21-22 where among the pay-out will be places in some of the European Tour’s biggest tournaments.
Crosland Heath’s Hanson missed the cut by one shot in this week’s PGA Europro Tour event. After a sad 76 he had a mountain to climb but responded manfully.
He birdied his first two holes and picked up two more strokes before the turn and two more early on the back nine. But he ran up a double at the fifth and suffered three other bogeys to miss out for the second event running.
He has had some impressive scores in regional tournaments, earning his place in The Rock when he shot under 71 at Matfen Hall in the East Qualifier in June.
Queensbury’s Nathan Stead booked his place with a 72 and David Astin (Woodsome Hall) and Lee Shepherd (Willow Valley) got in with 74s to join Fixby’s Paul Carman in a in tournament in which US PGA Tour man Ken Ferrie will be the star attraction.
Ashington-born Ferrie, attached at Matfen Hall, has returned from the US circuit for a month to recharge his batteries and make arrangements for his wedding early next year.
He won the 2005 Smurfit European Open and the same year beat his coach and host club head professional John Harrison in a play-off for The Rock. But he faces tough competition from arguably the strongest field assembled for the event since its launch eight years ago. It includes 2002 French Open winner Malcolm Mackenzie, from Sheffield, and other ex-European Tour men Paul Eales and Paul Carrigill.
Eales, sponsored by Northern Rock, mixes playing, coaching and working for BBC Sport as an on-course commentator while MacKenzie recently quit the main circuit to form a swing analysis business with his brother Iain, the former Yorkshire county captain. Carrigill, from Morley, is a referee on the main tour.
Huddersfield’s hopes of adding to their lengthy list of Yorkshire Team championships were dashed at Middlesbrough where Hallowes ran away with the title.
The Sheffield club raced to a nine strokes win ahead of runners-up Howley Hall, their four-man team totalling 567 while the Fixby quartet of Richard Broadley, Ben Johnson, Brad Tupman and Neil Williams finished fifth on 588.
Tupman, the Halifax, Huddersfield Strokeplay champion, was the star of the Fixby show, carding 72 71, and Union Matchplay champion Broadley was just a couple of shots back, but all four men posted rounds in the 70s.
James Maw, their young county player, led the way for Hallowes who celebrated their first title win since 1970 when they pipped Fixby in a card play-off at Hallamshire.
He shot two rounds of 67 to win the William Raynor Bowl as leading individual on a Brasscastle course where, following heavy rain that had put the contest in doubt, preferred lies were in operation and all bunkers were ruled out of play.
Frank Greaves fired a first round 69 and added a 73 which played a major role as West End, relegated last season then promoted from Division II at Moor Allerton in July, maintained First Division status in second last place.
Last year’s champions Moortown also won a battle to hold on to top flight status while Rotherham, champions three years in a row prior to Moortown’s success, were relegated.
567 - Hallowes; 576 - Howley Hall; 578 - Saltburn; 579 - Wike Ridge; 588 - Huddersfield (R Broadley 71 74, B Johnson 79 74, B Tupman 72 71, N Williams 76 72); 588 - Garforth; 589 - Fulford; 589 - Moortown; 590 - Oakdale; 595 - Baildon; 601 - West End (S Martin 80 72, C Ingham 80 76, R Greenwood 75 76, F Greaves 69 73); 601 - Wath. Relegated: 605 - Pike Hills; 607 - Ilkley; 608 - Rotherham; 611 - Northcliffe; 612 - Moor Allerton; 621 - Beverley & ER.