TGI Golf Partners travelled the length and breadth of the UK in their attempts to book a place in the group’s Ashworth Cup team to take on rivals Foremost at Turnberry on 13-14 August.
Partners of TGI Golf – Europe’s leading golf retail services group, owned by PGA Professionals – turned out in force in their attempts to claim one of the eight qualifying berths available in Captain Tom Eckford’s team that will attempt to win back the Ashworth Cup at the iconic Ailsa Course.
Andrew Crerar (Panmure) and Kenny Hutton (Downfield) amassed a total of 1,250 miles between them in their efforts to qualify. Both missed out at the Scottish event at Cawder, so travelled 230-miles south to Stockport Golf Club to try again.
Fortunately Hutton finished in the top two to cement his place, however Crerar once again finished outside the qualifying spots, but his commitment paid off as he was selected as one of Eckford’s four wildcard picks.
Eckford said: “Andrew showed great commitment to the cause in his attempts to qualify, and has received a wildcard because he is an excellent player with lots of experience around links golf courses, which will be vital around Turnberry.”
Robert Giles (Greenore) made the most of home advantage to book his place in the team at the Irish qualifying event, which saw Stephen Hammil (Lisburn) secure the second qualifying place.
Craig Ronald (Carluke) and Paul Jamieson (Dunblane New Golf Club) edged a close Scottish qualifier, where just two shots separated Jamieson in second place and the next five players.
Just days later Hutton who was one of those that narrowly missed out at Cawder, booked his place in the team at Stockport Golf Club. Richard Lambert (Crosland Heath) just edged the second qualifying place, beating Michael Brooks (Malton & Norton) and Paul Walker (Knott End) by just a single shot.
However, Brooks booked his place in the team seven days later when he won the final qualifying event at Newbury & Crookham by just one shot from Matt Paget (Royal Mid-Surrey), who will also join Eckford’s team.
With eight places secured Eckford was left to pick the final four members of his team, which had to include two senior players.
The four wildcard picks are Barrie Stevens (BeauDesert), Peter Hanna (Lurgan), Brendan McGovern (Headfort) and Crerar, while Simon Stevenson (Taunton & Pickeridge) will be travelling reserve.
“Barrie and Peter are both incredibly experienced players who have played previously in the Ashworth Cup, so they know what it is all about. Both are great guys tohave around and they will be a real asset to this team,” said Eckford.
“Brendan is the in-form golfer at the moment – he’s flying high in the PGA Irish Region Order of Merit with a number of wins under his belt. He has everything, the ability, the experience and the personality, which is invaluable to the team.”
The captain issued a rallying call to his team, who will attempt to win back the trophy they lost last year at The Grove, Hertfordshire.
“Every T will be crossed and I dotted before we get to the event. This is one competition that I am determined to win, we do not want to come second again,” said the Ranfurly Castle Head PGA Professional. “I cannot wait to get to Turnberry and for the matches to start and hopefully we can bring the Ashworth Cup trophy home with the TGI Golf team.”
Eddie Reid, TGI Golf Managing Director, said: “The standard of golf at all the qualifying events was exceptional and they all went down to the wire. It was a nerve-wracking experience for all the guys, but it goes to show just how important the Ashworth Cup is to our Partners and how determined they all are to be a part of the team.”
TGI Golf www.tgigolf.com
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Picture caption: TGI Golf Partnership Ashworth Cup captain Tom Eckford (centre) congratulates team members Matt Paget (left) and Michael Brooks (right) following the Ashworth Cup qualifying event at Newbury & Crookham.