Ricky Lee, The Journal Champion of Champions, is being tipped by Northumberland captain Andrew Minnikin to make it through today’s regional qualifying for The Open Championship.
Qualifying is being staged for the first time at Minnikin’s club Northumberland, where he captured the County Strokeplay Championship ten years ago.
A former member of Gosforth and Westerhope, Minnikin has put aside county loyalty in naming his top two tips to make progress – Tyneside member Lee, the Durham county No 1, and Cumbria professional Craig Goodfellow.
Goodfellow is the only man in the history of the PGA to have won both the club professionals and assistants championships. Minnikin, also in today’s field, said: “They are fine golfers and they are also battlers with a point to prove.
“Craig hits the ball a long way and he knows how to get it round the course and score.
“Ricky seems to be enjoying his golf now he has reverted back to amateur status.”
Minnikin predicts one or two under becoming today’s qualification target.
He added: “It might be par 72 if the conditions make things a little more difficult.
“It’s usually around half a dozen who go through and there are plenty of good players capable of making it.”
Minnikin, a 33-year-old civil servant from Washington, said: “It’s wide open. “It’s a one-round sprint, so that is a shoot-out. Anything can happen.
“Other players with a high level of ability such as Andy Scrimshaw from Close House and the Westerhope lads Spike Nesbit and George Cowan, could well be among those who make it through to local final qualifying.”
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(* denotes amateurs)
8.00 James Cousins (Darlington), Glyn Jones (South Shields)
8.11 *Richard Aisbitt (Brancepeth Castle), Michael Nesbit (Westerhope)
8.22 Ross Crowe (Westerhope), *Lloyd Bond (Hartlepool)
8.33 James Wilkinson (Brampton), Mark Penny (Morpeth)
8.44 Simon Calvert (The Darlington), Craig Goodfellow (Penrith Driving Range)
9.17 David Clark (Morpeth), *Kris Gray (Northumberland club)
9.28 Andy Scrimshaw (Close House), Andrew Richardson (Middlesbrough)
9.39 *Andrew Minnikin (Northumberland club), Richard Robson-Crosby (Ponteland), *Alex Dixon (City of Newcastle)
10.17 Steven Fawcitt (Morpeth)
10.28 *Ricky Lee (Tyneside)
10.50 Martyn Jobling (Parklands)
11.01 *Angus Montgomery (Middlesbrough)
11.34 Mathew Webb (Golf Foundation), Steven Harrison (Stocksfield), *Dan Beeson (Tyneside)
11.50 George Cowan, Westerhope
12.12 Jonathan Lupton (Close House), *Martin McCririck South Shields
12.23 Alex Wrigley (Hartlepool)