12:00pm Thursday 31st January 2013
By Tony Kelly
HIGH-CLASS European action will swing into Fulford Golf Club this summer with the biggest tournament in York since the Benson & Hedges International Open heyday.
Fulford will host the European Ladies’ Amateur Team Championship from Saturday, July 6 to Saturday, July 13, which not only represents a major coup for the Heslington-based club but will also generate a massive cash boost for the city.
The event attracts six-strong teams, and their backroom staffs, from as many as 20 European nations with the cream of the amateur Continental game competing.
Said Gary Pearce, general manager of Fulford: “This is a fantastic tournament for the club and also for the city.
“It’s a big commitment from the club, but we are really looking forward to welcoming the teams from around Europe, and we hope the golfing public will come to watch the action and support the home nations.”
The European Ladies’ Amateur Team Championship has only been held twice before in England – in 1971 at Ganton, just outside Scarborough, and then 20 years later at Wentworth. On both occasions England won the championship.
So for Fulford to be accorded the right to stage the tournament this summer is a significant accomplishment, and with admission free to the week-long event it should prove a top-drawer attraction.
It will be the biggest event held at Fulford since it was the regular venue for the prestigious Benson & Hedges professional tournament.
That graced the heathland and woodland course from 1979 to 1989 when winners included stars like Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino, Greg Norman, Sam Torrance and Sandy Lyle.
That was the era when Fulford hosted 23 consecutive European Tour events and one of the most famous shots in the game remains when Bernhard Langer climbed an ash tree, where his ball had lodged, on the 17th to play on to the nearby green in 1981.
Pearce added: “Fulford has a rich history of staging professional and amateur events, including many Ladies Championship events.
“These include hosting the inaugural British Ladies Open Championship in 1976, the Ladies British Amateur Stroke-play Championship. We have also welcomed the Ladies Yorkshire County Championships on several occasions.”
Winners of the Euro team championship eight times, England’s last success was in 1993.
Teams will arrive at Fulford on Saturday, July 6, after which the next two days will be practice days. The University of York have agreed to help provide some of the practice areas, added Pearce.
The second practice day will also include the opening ceremony at Fulford.
All the teams will then play two stroke-play qualifying rounds on Tuesday, July 9 and Wednesday, July 10.
The leading eight teams will advance to match-play golf from then on with the quarter-finals on Thursday, July 11, semi-finals on the next day, and the final, followed by prize-giving, closing ceremony and gala dinner on Saturday, July 13.
There is a chance for York citizens to be directly involved in the tournament with organisers England Golf needing volunteers to help run the event.
This will be co-ordinated by the club and anyone interested should phone Fulford on 01904 412579 to express an interest.
For more information, visit the website www.englandgolf.org/euro2013
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