THE cream of the area's young golfing talent put their skills in the limelight at the HSBC Wee Wonders North East qualifying rounds. The Gubeon Golf Centre and Matfen Hall Golf Club in Northumberland as well as Crook Golf Club in County Durham staged separate events with 18 of the region's finest youngsters progressing to the regional final to be held at Leeds Golf Centre on July 13. Founded by Alasdair Good, the PGA head pro at Gullane Golf Club, the HSBC Wee Wonders is now a national junior golf event for the whole of Great Britain and Ireland. The tournament has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 1995 and this year it is anticipated that over 4,500 junior golfers will play in one of the 100 local qualifying events.
The winners then move on to nine regional finals in the hope of securing a place in the grand final, which will be at St Andrews on August 23 and 24. Playing on par 3 golf courses in "flag format", boys and girls aged from five to 12 get the chance to see how they score against others in their age group.
The players start at the first tee and have 36 shots to get as far round the course as possible, placing a flag where the 36th shot finishes. The ones who get furthest are the winners.
Last year, Jack Hermeston from Newcastle United and James Rogers from Seaton Carew both made it through to St Andrews where they finished 5th and 6th in their respective age categories.
Jack's performance over the two days certainly caught the eyes of the organisers and was selected to represent the United Kingdom and Ireland at the World Wee Wonders Championships to be staged at Pinehurst in North Carolina later this month. Alasdair Good said: "The tournament gives boys and girls the opportunity to enjoy the challenge and fun of competitive golf in an environment where the life lessons - honesty, integrity and fairness - are as important as the game itself.
"My wish is to see the event continue for many years to come and in time we may even see a Major champion of our own. This however is secondary to the many thousands of children who will experience a golfing opportunity, some for the first time, and use this experience to teach them something more valuable about life and their own personal development."
Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said: "The 2007 HSBC Wee Wonders Championships was a marvellous event and everyone here at the R&A in St Andrews is looking forward to an even bigger and better competition this year. We take this opportunity to wish all competitors the best of luck and look forward to seeing the grand finalists here at the Home of Golf."
Age 5-6: Cameron Fletcher-Smith & Alex Carr
7-8: Ben Hardy
9-10: Luke Denny & Lucy Walton
11-12: Rose Campbell
5-6: Jack Atkinson
7-8: Jack Walling
9-10: Matthew Wood & Chelsea Kelly
11-12: Conor Turnbull, Jake Heron & Eleanor Watson.
5-6: William Skipp
7-8: Joseph Blackbourne
9-10: Thomas Staples-Clough
11-12: Thomas Hogg & Shannon O'Dwyer.
Good luck to all of you.