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Race 2 Rockliffe goes down a Storm
September 16, 2011

European Tour star Graeme Storm was on hand to congratulate the first ever winner of the Durham County Golf Partnership's Race 2 Rockliffe.

The new competition - aimed at encouraging more young players from County Durham to gain valuable experience in playing new courses - saw more than 170 sign up to take part in the 11 qualifying events, culminating in an exciting finale at the magnificent Rockliffe Hall, on the banks of the River Tees.

Thirty players - 10 in each of the three categories - finished in the qualifying positions on the Order of Merit to earn a shot at £1500 worth of Mizuno prizes.

And on a blustery day at Hurworth-on-Tees, near Darlington, it was Bradley Hildreth of Billingham Golf Club who emerged as the new Race 2 Rockliffe champion after a superb level par round. The three handicapper won a £500 set of Mizuno golf clubs.

The nett winner was Michael Alexander (Eaglescliffe GC) with a nett level par round from his 13 handicap, but the boys did not have it all their own way with Lily Downs (Eaglescliffe GC) and 10 years-old Erin Goodfellow (Consett GC), the youngest competitor in the final, both finishing in the prizes.

The players who finished at the top of the qualifying Order of Merit were:

Gross - Ryan Ingram (Houghton Le Spring GC)

Nett boys - Tom Skelton (Beamish Park GC)

Nett girls - Alexander Stevenson (South Moor GC)

Players with handicaps ranging from scratch to 26 were all in with a chance of winning a prize on final's day, emphasising the open nature of the competition.

Graeme Storm took time out from his busy schedule to present the prizes. The 2007 French Open champion from Hartlepool chatted to players, signed caps, and posed for photographs which made the event even more special for all the players.

The Race 2 Rockliffe is backed by Mizuno and Rockliffe, which offers top-class hotel, spa and restaurant facilities as well as an excellent golf course.

Qualifying events took place at Seaton Carew GC; The Darlington GC; Billingham GC; Houghton Le Spring GC; Chester Le Street GC; South Moor GC; Bishop Auckland GC; Boldon GC; Wearside GC; Tyneside GC; and Durham City GC

Plans are already being made for the 2012 Race 2 Rockliffe, which will again be backed by Mizuno and Rockliffe Hall.

The 2012 calendar of qualifying events will be available in the new year after which registration will open for competitors. For more details, visit , while the Race 2 Rockliffe also has its own Facebook page which will carry updates over the coming months.

Jonathan Ward, County Development Officer for the Durham County Golf Partnership, said: "The final had the feel of a real Tour event. Rockliffe Hall's Director of Golf, Ian Knight, and his staff ensured that the players were treated like pro's with valet service, clubs cleaned and free range balls to warm up. The course was in great condition and the facilities were first class.

"We are delighted that both Mizuno and Rockliffe Hall have agreed to support us again in 2012, and we are looking for additional sponsors to allow us to grow the event even further. Mizuno provided some amazing prizes and Rockliffe was an ideal setting for the final.

"Graeme Storm was a great ambassador for the sport on the day and we would like to thank him for making time for the players, who really appreciated him being there".

"There has also been a positive spin-off for the events in the Order of Merit, with all of them reporting an increase in entries and some of them doubling the numbers taking part."

The qualifiers were:

Gross category: Ryan Ingram (Houghton le Spring GC); Andrew Wilson (The Darlington); Steve Burn (The Wynard); Bradley Hildreth (Billingham); Rhys Thompson (Boldon); David Stabler (Houghton le Spring); Simon Jones (Billingham); Carl Thompson (Boldon); Sam Henderson (Ryton); Nathaniel Poole (The Darlington)

Nett Boys: Thomas Skelton (Beamish); Matthew Hopps (Wearside); Robert Cornish (Whickham); Matthew Cornish (Whickham); Alex Wray (Billingham); Eric Robson (Oak Leaf); David Archer (Wearside); Michael Alexander (Eaglescliffe); George Hall (Bishop Auckland); Toby Purvis (Boldon)

Nett Girls: Alexandra Stevenson (South Moor); Zara Alexander (Eaglescliffe); Laura Alexander (Eaglescliffe); Briony Bayles (Bishop Auckland); Rebecca Horner (Woodham); Alice Jones (Billingham); Jessica Hall (Bishop Auckland); Michelle James (Wearside); Rebecca Woolley (Durham City); Lily Downs (Eaglescliffe).

The Mizuno Race 2 Rockliffe is one of a number of projects aimed at increasing participation in golf run under the umbrella of the Durham County Golf Partnership. This is a collaboration of a number of stakeholders in the sport including the English Golf Union, The English Women's Golf Association, the PGA, the Golf Foundation and Sport England.

In Durham the partnership is supported by the Durham Ladies County Golf Association, the Durham Union of Golf Clubs and the North East/West PGA.

For more information on the work of the Durham County Golf Partnership contact Jonathan Ward, County Development Officer, Durham County Golf Partnership.


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