Golf shorts: Ellie Givens set for season opener

The Northern Echo: Down Under: Ellie Givens will start her bid for a top 25 finish in New Zealand on Friday Down Under: Ellie Givens will start her bid for a top 25 finish in New Zealand on Friday

DARLINGTON’S Ellie Givens has geared up for her first professional tournament Down Under in style – and will have all eyes on her group tomorrow.

Givens won the junior Pro-Am over the Clearwater course on Tuesday when her team claimed a brilliant 32 points over five holes.

The Rockliffe Hall touring professional has been in Christchurch this week for the season opener at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open starting Friday.

Givens is looking to make an early impression after securing her Ladies European Card and is to stay out there for the next few weeks. She travels to Australia after this weekend.

The 24-year-old, an English amateur girls champion in 2007, will be going out late in the draw and will have Amelia Garvey alongside her. The English-born New Zealander will become the second youngest golfer ever to play in the competition at the age of 13.

Givens said: “The course is in great shape and the greens are rolling really well so I'm excited to get started. The weather has been nice with plenty of sunshine but a lot windier than I had imagined it would be which is making the course trickier.

“My preparation has gone well, I've played the course twice and will have an easy day Thursday on the practice ground before the event starts on Friday.

“I'm aiming to have a strong start to my 2014 season here in Christchurch and, of course, like every week, looking to win but would aim to be in the top 25.

“I've actually been drawn to play with a 13 year-old amateur, who only qualified for the event on Tuesday. It should be really good.”

A LITTLE closer to home the region’s Touring men are in the Middle East and start the Omega Dubai Desert Classic today.

Malton & Norton’s Simon Dyson will be out in the morning, while Hartlepool’s Graeme Storm and Harrogate’s John Parry will all go out after each other in the last few groups.

It has been a largely frustrating start to the year for the quartet so far and they will all be looking for improvement in Dubai.

THE 2012 HowDidiDo National Matchplay mixed pairs champions, Eileen McMullan and Gary Catt, from Richmond Golf Club, head off to Portugal next week after winning a place in the prestigious grand final of the 2013 championship.

The expenses-paid trip to play at the world-class Quinta do Lago resort, on the Algarve, is reward for the duo's efforts in battling their way through local rounds and a regional final at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel, in Peebles, in a competition open to any golfer who is a member of an affiliated club with an officially recognised handicap. McMullan is a 22-handicapper and Catt plays off one.

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