GOLF: England’s elite are ready for Woodhall Spa test

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Many of the country’s top amateur golfers will be heading for Woodhall Spa Golf Club this weekend - ready to battle with the famous Hotchkin course.

The county champions at all three levels - boys, men and seniors - will gather at the headquarters of England Golf to decide the respective national champions.

All three events are played over 36 holes, the boys on Saturday, and the men on Sunday, while the seniors play one round on each day.

The weekend festival gets underway at 7.17am on Saturday morning with the boys’ championship when Ben Josham, the Somerset boy champion, and his Cheshire equivalent Max Rogers, set the ball rolling.

The boys’ field also includes under 16 international Coby Cartwright, representing Leicestershire & Rutland, schools international Matthew Myers, the Northamptonshire boy champion, and Gian-Marco Petrozzi from Staffordshire, who finished equal seventh in the Carris Trophy.

Taylor Carter who won all six of his games in helping Essex to the Boys County Championship at Sandiway recently, is also competing as is Sam Donald, who was in the Durham team at the same event.

The seniors’ field of 30 county champions, includes two members of the England team that finished third in last week’s European Seniors Team Championships in Poland.

Alan Mew is the Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands senior champion, while his successful foursomes partner Tony McLure from Northumberland is the defending seniors champion following his victory at Woodhall Spa a year ago, when he succeeded Mew, the winner in 2012.

The seniors’ field also includes several more senior internationals in Martin Galway from Sussex, Andrew Carman, representing Warwickshire, Richard Partridge from Kent and Hertfordshire’s John Ambridge.

The seniors competition gets underway at 9.37am with Tony Holt from Lancashire and Yorkshire’s Ian Stephenson first off.

The men’s competition has just 26 county champions yet nevertheless contains quality and experience.

Many have competed in this event previously but none have managed to become national county champion.

At one end of the spectrum are David Gibson, the Leicestershire & Rutland champion, and Martin Young from Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Channel Islands. Gibson has competed in many England Golf events and is a stalwart of Leicestershire golf.

Young was the English Mid Amateur champion in 2006, finished fourth in 2010 and has been fifth twice in the past three years.

He also finished sixth in the County Champions event in 2011 and this year represented GB&I in the inaugural Concession Cup against the USA in Florida.

Woodhall Spa will also see a familiar face in Matthew Cryer, the Warwickshire champion, back in the amateur ranks after a spell as a professional, and Mark Young, who helped Lancashire to the County Championship last year.

Three more experienced men are at the back of the field, Richard Aisbitt, the Durham champion, Simon Richardson from Lincolnshire and Cumbria’s William Bowe, all being at the forefront of the county game for many years.

At the other end of the age gap is 19-year-old Ben Amor, the Wiltshire champion, who was English boy champion last year at West Lancashire and was capped as a boy international. Northamptonshire champion Nick Herridge and Tom Bayliss, the National Association of Public Golf Courses champion, are first off at 7.31am on Sunday.