amateur golf
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SMETHURST DEFENDS SENIORS CROWN AT SHERWOOD FOREST



Roy Smethurst faces a tough task when he defends the 54-hole English Seniors Championship at Sherwood Forest and Coxmoor on 6-8 June. The Crewe-based retired computer systems designer took the title a year ago at Moor Park after an exciting tussle with former champion David Lane (Goring and Streatley) and the two scratch men are likely to be in the shake-up again this time.

Smethurst, 58, just edged out Bracknell shopkeeper Lane by a stroke in what
was virtually a match play situation last year, the pair finishing 15 shots clear of the rest of the field.

Lane, champion in 1997 and '99, and a former holder of the British and European Seniors titles, will want to regain the crown, while Smethurst will be keen to become the first player to successfully defend the title.

When the championship gets underway on Wednesday the 6th, Smethurst tees-off at 9am at Coxmoor, while Lane is at Sherwood Forest with an 11.20am start.
The pair are unlikely to have it all their own way this time as the 240-strong field looks much more competitive and they can expect tough opposition from the likes of Jon Marks, Gordon Edwards, and Graham Steel, all former winners.

Marks (Woodbridge) was champion in 1998, Edwards (Bromborough) took the
title in 1988 and '93 and was joint winner in '96, while Steel (Moor Park) was joint champion in '94.

However, everyone will be keeping an eye on Harry Ashby (Consett), the former England international, who starts at Coxmoor at 11.10am. Ashby won the English Amateur title in 1972 and '73 and his entry this year greatly enhances the quality of the field. No ex-English champion has gone on to take the Senior title, so Ashby would create history if he can come out on top this time.

Local knowledge will certainly be on the side of English Golf Union secretary Paul Baxter, who will be competing in his third English Seniors. Baxter was secretary at Sherwood Forest for eight years from 1977 so what he doesn't know about the course probably isn't worth knowing. And having finished joint second two years ago on his debut, the Woodhall Spa man could be among the front-runners.

Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck (Coombe Hill), a regular in the Championship, is
entered again, as is Brian Berney (Gerrards Cross) another former winner, Albert Minshall, owner of Hill Valley Golf Club in Shropshire, and Leicestershire veteran Eddie Hammond.

Forty-one players from an entry of 281 were balloted out. There will be a cut after 36 holes, the leading 60 players and ties competing for the final 18 holes, and, once again, there are four subsidiary competitions based on age groups.

Furthermore, the champion and those finishing second and third will be invited to represent England in the Nations Cup at the 2002 European Seniors Championship being played in Spain. Also, England will be sending a seven-strong party to Ireland for the inaugural Seniors Home Internationals at Portmarnock on 2-4 October and selection could have a strong bearing on
what happens in this Championship.

 

 
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