North East professional Graeme Storm (pictured right) has started the new season in good form. After taking two months off, Storm was back in action at a series of events in the Middle East and then Far East and Australia through January and February.
The Hartlepool-based player, looking to recapture his best form, started in scintillating style at the Abu Dhabi Championship, following up his opening round of 69 with a stunning 64 that included an eagle and seven birdies.
Playing his first event since the Volvo Masters at the start of November, the 30-year-old former British amateur champion went into the weekend sharing top spot on 11 under par with Aussie Richard Green.
They were both flying the flag for the North East. When back home from Tour, Storm practices at The Wynyard and Green holds the course record of 64 for the Hunting Course at De Vere Slaley Hall.
"We always play well together," said Storm, who took time off to work on his fitness with Steve Macgregor, the same trainer who has helped Lee Westwood back into the world's top 10.
"I had a look at where I needed to improve and Pete (coach Pete Cowen) said I needed to get stronger. I've been working hard.
"I holed some great putts and that takes the pressure off the rest of your game."
Storm went on to finish in 15th place in Abu Dhabi with rounds of 69 and 73.
He was then 66th at the Qatar Masters and 54th at the Dubai Desert Masters.
Sadly, he missed the cut at his next event, the Malaysian open, but, as we went to print, was in high hopes of doing well at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia.
This season, of course, the eagerly anticipated 'Race to Dubai' has replaced the European Tour Order of Merit and Graeme is thrilled to be participating in this new-look event is especially looking forward to playing in events close to home where he can compete and see his family simultaneously.
He added: "My sole focus is for me to play the best I possibly can and achieve some great results throughout the year of 2009."
Storm is joined on the Tour by fellow North East professionals Kenneth Ferrie and Rob Dinwiddie - Ferrie back on the European scene after a year on the US Tour and Dinwiddie hoping to follow up his superb debut season when he easily retained his card.
Ashington's Ferrie has got off to a circumspect start, finishing in 97th, 103rd and 90th places respectively in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai.
Dinwiddie, from Barnard Castle was, 81st, 21st, 98th and 137th respectively in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Dubai and Malaysia.
Golf North East wishes all three players the best of luck in 2009.