PAUL HOWARD tees up today for the biggest week of his blossoming golf career.
The Southport and Ainsdale player is the lone local representative in the Amateur Championship, which begins at Hesketh and Hillside golf courses in Southport.
A total of 228 golfers from 35 countries will spend the next two days trying to compile the lowest score from a round at each of the courses before the best 64 go forward to the matchplay stage of the tournament.
Howard is hoping that his previous form at Hillside will stand him good stead, having won the Pines Trophy there last year and finishing runner-up in this year’s event.
The 20-year-old, who is studying for a business management degree at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, is making his debut in the Amateur and admits it will be the biggest event he has played in.
“I would like to think I can get through the qualifying stage, and then every round I get through in the matchplay will be a bonus,” the Lancashire county player says.
“There is a little bit of luck in the qualifying stage depending on the weather and whether the wind is blowing when you go out.
“In the St Andrews Links tournament recently I missed the cut by one shot after playing in the wind in the morning and then seeing it calm down in the afternoon and the scores go down, but that is the luck of the draw.”
Howard started playing golf at Houghwood golf club, on the outskirts of St Helens, before switching to the Southport and Ainsdale links course, which has a long and distinguished history including staging the Ryder Cup.
“The great thing about links golf is that you can play all year round,” said Howard, who lives at Billinge and plays off plus two.