THE Northern Echo's competition winner, Mark Brown, had a day he will never forget at The Wynyard Club.

It may not have been the first time, nor the last, he has played at the Tees Valley course but this occasion will stick with him forever - and he has a few mementoes in his golf bag that he will treasure.

Having won a place in the Seve Trophy pro-am yesterday, Brown had the chance to play alongside rookie Stephen Dodd and failed to go home with a winners' medal.

But that was of no concern to the assistant greenkeeper of Brancepeth Castle for the last 13 years.

What he was more bothered about was getting Michael Owen, Steve Harmison, Paul Collingwood and Mick McCarthy to sign autographs.

And he won't let anyone forget, "I only used the one ball all the way round. I'll be using that at the weekend when I play at my local. It could be my lucky ball," said Mark.

The eight-handicapper - cheered on by mum, Maureen, and sister June - had his dad, Charlie, caddying for him and the pair will remember playing in such good company with great fondness.

"To see how Wynyard was set up for the occasion was incredible, mind-boggling," he said. "I played Wynyard just seven weeks ago and to see the difference between then and now was amazing. They have really got it in great shape."

At the presentation of awards afterwards, winning team captain Padraig Harrington hit the stage and paid tribute to his fourball which included Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy, who apparently 'played to his handicap'.

"It was just a really memorable occasion. From arriving in the morning to sign in, to hearing what Padraig had to say after winning, it was just great," said Mark, whose seven pars on the last nine failed to lift Dodd's team from third bottom in the finishing table.

SPEAKING of McCarthy, yesterday's heroics at The Wynyard will have come as a little light relief to the Black Cats' boss after his side's dreadful start to life back in the Premiership.

Given that Sunderland only overcame League Two side Cheltenham on Tuesday night after extra-time in the Carling Cup, you could argue that the Seve Trophy pro-am was the first thing he has won this season.

According to Harrington, McCarthy was steady all day and he helped contribute to a 53 medal team score that edged out Colin Montgomerie's fourball, which included Shearer and Harmison, by one.

WHILE McCarthy took the honours, it's fair to say that Michael Owen wasn't alone during his round with Ballesteros. With Jonathon Edwards among the fourball, they had one of the biggest followings of the day. And that crowd was boosted by what seemed like a bus load from Tyneside. Owen had Terry McDermott carrying his clubs, while Alan Murray, Lee Clark and Scott Parker followed them around the course.

AFTER playing his part in helping England win back the Ashes last week, Durham's Paul Collingwood (above) proved he's not too bad with a golf club either.

On the tenth hole, his drive sailed a good 60 yards beyond Jose Maria Olazabal's.

While the Spaniard found a bunker to bring a halt to his drive, Collingwood's flew way beyond the hazard and a few bounces later was well ahead.

THERE'S not much danger of building work taking place on the Wynyard Estate this week. While plenty of designer homes are being erected around the course, there's a good number of workmen taking "regular tea-breaks" to put it nicely.

But you had to feel sorry for the lads whose hopes of spotting stars were ended yesterday.

"Here mate,'' they asked. "What time will Robbie Williams be coming round here?"

Ever sorry to disappoint, the column informed them that he wouldn't be. "Rod Stewart?" No.

"Well, Nell McAndrew's here, I cannot wait to see her.''

Sorry lads, perhaps you got the wrong event - the model was taking part in the Great North Run last Sunday.

Published: 22/09/2005