When the Tyneside club’s Ricky Lee won The Journal Champion of Champions last year, he was the first Durham County winner since James Handy took the trophy back to South Moor in 1998.
With the 2013 tournament being played on the Lee Westwood Filly Course at Close House a week on Sunday, who is to say Chris Handy – son of James – will not keep up the family tradition?
Handy junior, who makes his debut for the England Under-16 team in Wales this weekend, is a wild card choice for the Champions by Bryan Ross, who has followed James Handy as Durham County captain.
James Handy and his wife Anne were yesterday getting ready for today’s journey to Wales with their son. Handy senior said last night: “It would be nice to think that Chris could do it at Close House, but I am not going to be putting any pressure on him by making predictions.
“What I can say for sure is that Chris goes into every tournament he plays doing his absolute best and if it happens, it happens. That is always his approach to tournaments.”
Current county skipper Ross will not need to have thought too long and hard about making Handy the Younger one of his six wild cards.
In 2011, Chris made his Champions debut as a 14-year-old, coming within a hair’s breadth of a top 20 spot, and last season he played for the England Schoolboys Under-18 team and won the South Moor men’s club championship.
This year he captured the Durham County Boys – an Under-18 tournament, for which Handy will still be eligible during the next two seasons.
Arguably an ever bigger success was another triumph in an Under-18 field, winning the individual title in the Little Big 6 at South Moor, his home club, against the cream of the six northern counties’ juniors. Throw in a 12th-place finish in a junior international tournament in Germany and you realise the extent of his Champions credentials.
The 16-year-old pupil at St Bede’s, Lanchester, is coached at Wynyard by Leadbetter Academy man Andrew Nicholson, who also coaches Chris Paisley, the European Tour player from Mickley Square.
Nicholson has been keeping Handy’s feet on the ground – literally. Said Handy: “I have been more consistent with my irons, because Andrew has been working on keeping my left heel more grounded during my swing.”
CLUBS are reminded that noon on Monday is the deadline for entering their player in the Champions.
Separate information for clubs and players is available on www.closehouse.co.uk by clicking on golf then The Journal Champion of Champions 2013.
Close House are providing all players with free entry, a complimentary practice round and a gift bag.