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THE SAAB DAILY MAIL JUNIOR INTERCLUB
CHAMPIONSHIP NATIONAL FINAL
HEADS FOR LA MANGA

 

The National Final of the Saab Daily Mail Junior Interclub Championship, European golf's biggest junior team event, is taking place at south-east Spain's La Manga Club from March 20-23. Two of the UK's strongest junior club teams, Bradford's Northcliffe and Dunwood Manor, from Hampshire, will be competing for the national title.

Now in its fourth year, the Saab Daily Mail incorporates 96 junior leagues which covers the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland. The competition started with 1,270 golf clubs vying for the trip to Europe's premier golf, sports and leisure resort, involving approximately 10,000 young golfers.

The tournament is the largest junior team event in Europe. Winning clubs of each participating league qualify for one of six regional finals. The top two teams for each regional final qualify for the semi-finals, from which the winners go to La Manga Club for the final.

Dunwood Manor were runners-up in last years competition, and return to the final with five of last year's six strong team. In addition to Jordan Stelmach and Luke Poulter, who have both represented Hampshire, Dunwood Manor has the only girl competing in the final, Katie Huffam. 18 years old and playing off four, Katie has captained Hampshire girls and played for the full ladies side. Last year, Katie set a ladies course record on her way to winning the Hampshire Girls Championships by 15 shots and also represented England girls.

As they have progressed to the National Final, the Northcliffe team has illustrated the importance of being able to play to one's handicap.

The Northcliffe team includes a 15 year old with a handicap of 5, Simon Bell and a the team also has the youngest golfer of the final, 13 year old Andrew Town. Having played golf since he was 11, Andrew has a handicap to match his age, 13 - at the moment. Warren Kemp, with a handicap of 6, and Andrew Lee, who plays off 7, both 16 years old, epitomise the team's strength in depth.

Despite their youth, both teams consist of hardened competitors. Having won their respective junior leagues, the teams played in one of six Saab Daily Mail regional finals around the country. The top two teams from each regional final competed in the semifinals, which decided who would make the trip to La Manga Club for the 18-hole, medal final on the resort's famous, championship South Course.

Extensive coverage in the Daily Mail includes a pre-tournament feature on March 22, written by senior writer, Michael McDonnell and McDonnell will write the National Final report for the March 23 edition. Sky Sports will be broadcasting action from the National Final, including coverage on its Golf Extra programme on March 31. Valuable support fro the teams also comes from their respective local Saab dealerships, Peter Clarke (Southampton) and Appleyards in Bradford.

The professional environment which surrounds the National Final will be savoured by both teams. The event puts younger players on level terms to play championship golf against more experienced junior golfers, endorsing the Saab Daily Mail Junior Interclub Championship's status as a vital breeding ground for the top British golfers of the future.