Matty Lamb enters the biggest event of his fledgling career next week with his family receiving backing from a new sports funding system for youngsters just launched in the UK.
On Wednesday, the day before The Open Championship starts at Muirfield, the 15-year-old plus one handicapper from the Hexham club tees off in the 72-hole English Boys’ Under 16 Open, the McGregor Trophy.
His father Darren has joined sporting parents across the UK who are placing their offspring’s name on the website inspireastar.org
After trial runs, the site was opened during Wimbledon fortnight by owner Jill Storey, a 45-year-old former Northumberland tennis champion living in Surrey.
Storey, brought up in Gosforth, has an MBA from Durham Business School and a 21-year background in accountancy which saw her become a partner successively in Andersens, Deloitte and KPMG.
Her site, aimed at all sports, has the backing of leading tennis coaches such as Chris Sanderson, manager of the LTA High Performance Centre in Jesmond, Newcastle.
Friends and family use the site as a convenient method of pooling funds for individual youngsters and, as the Lamb family have discovered, Hexham people look after their own.
Especially when it comes to Matty, as well known in golf circles for his cheerful personality on and off the course as he is for a stream of victories.
When Darren found out about the website, it was in time for Matty to become its first golfer to be posted, 12 days ago.
A funding target of ï¿½2,500 was set, “to help with the costs of competing at four national 72-hole championships in 2013 including the men’s English Amateur and the British Boys.”
Last night the donations made amounted to 31 people giving ï¿½1,898, leaving the Lambs only ï¿½602 short of reaching their target with 46 days to go to the deadline.
Darren, 47, is the deputy chief executive of North Country Leisure, a Hexham based charity which runs sports leisure services for three local authorities, so he’s well qualified to judge such a website.
“I would recommend it to anybody,” he said. “Like many of the best ideas, when you look at it with hindsight, you can see its genius lies in its simplicity. It is well thought through.
“I have had the pleasure of talking to Jill Storey at length and it is obvious she is somebody with her heart in the right place who is doing this for all the right reasons.”
“Jill wants to support parents who are helping their youngsters make the most of their sport, and we are delighted and grateful so many people have been so quick to back Matty to such an extent.”
Should Matty, who is coached by Hexham head professional Andy Paisley, win the McGregor, Northumberland will achieve the rare honour of three players from one county capturing the title three years in a row.
City of Newcastle’s Jack Hermeston and Foxton’s Jake Storey triumphed in 2011 and 2012, their names going on the trophy alongside US Open champion Justin Rose (pictured right) and European Tour winners Edoardo Molinari and Graeme Storm.
A pupil at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, Lamb’s season of success started when he came through trials to be awarded the inaugural Close House Lee Westwood Scholarship.
Then he became the youngest winner of the Northumberland strokeplay championship in its 50-year history, one of three men’s county titles to his name in 2013.
The summer has also brought Lamb a junior international major title in the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters.
This is another 72-hole tournament, but for under-18s. Incredibly, he is young enough to compete in it for another four years. In the McGregor, he will take on players from 13 countries at the Seacroft club in Skegness, Lincolnshire, although his biggest challenge could come from closer to home.
Also playing is South Moor’s Chris Handy, who yesterday won the individual title in the Junior Big Six at South Moor, an event contested by the cream of the junior golfers in the six northern counties plus the Isle Of Man and won by Yorkshire.
Handy, a pupil at St Bede’s, Lanchester, signed for 71 and five-under 67, Lamb finishing fourth with 67 76.
Such is the strength of North East junior golf that Lamb and Handy will join Lincolnshire’s Jordon Wrisdale in forming the three-player England Under-16 team for the German Junior Masters next month.
Durham County’s captain, Bryan Ross, whose know-how and enthusiasm did so much good for the North East Masters 36-holers a few years ago, is the England squad manager.
:: Jill Storey is seeking corporate support for inspireastar.org and anybody interested can ring her on 07778 629447.