Wright feasts on rivals

Darren Wright. Picture: PGA EuroPro Tour
Darren Wright. Picture: PGA EuroPro Tour
Harry Ellis. Picture: PA Images

Ellis crashes out of US Amateur Championship

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Darren Wright has revealed how he celebrated his first victory of the season with a McDonald’s after his girlfriend’s bet came in.

The 25-year-old Rowlands Castle professional eased through stage one of qualifying for the EuroPro Tour at Formby Hall with a solid display that yielded a one-stroke victory over the rest of the field.

That performance now means Wright moves on to Frilford Heath in Oxford today for this week’s final stage of qualifying to secure his playing privileges for the season on the third tier of European golf.

But having been priced as a generous 10/1 shot for victory, his other half Diane placed a cheeky £5 bet – and was then kind enough to share the windfall when rounds of 70 and 73 earned him the top spot.

Wright said: ‘I was favourite at 10/1 and my girlfriend Diane put a fiver on me to win without me knowing. So she was quite pleased anyway!

‘She said she would take me out for a meal with the winnings but we got back late so we stopped off for a McDonald’s. At least she treated me to that, I suppose.

‘I’m 20/1 this week but I’ve told her not to bet on me.

‘I’m not really worried about the end result. I just need to make sure I get through.’

The serious business starts again today with Wright needing to secure a place in the top 80 from a field of 240 players in the first two rounds to make the third day.

That should guarantee him entry to every EuroPro event this season after he opted to concentrate on domestic competition, rather than continue on the German-based EPD Tour.

A successful season on the EuroPro would then gain him qualification for the Challenge Tour at the very least as he looks to make progress in the professional ranks.

And he goes into it with his confidence boosted after slotting back into tournament play with ease.

He said: ‘It’s obviously good to see where you are at in terms of tournament play because I haven’t played competitively for five months.

‘It is little things like course management and the way you think about the game.

‘It’s all well and good doing it in practice but you need to be on the ball in tournament play.

‘I didn’t go there to tear it up and win.

‘But I knew I had a chance because the first stage wasn’t the highest standard.

‘Obviously, it was great to hear I’d won it but it was all about setting myself up for this season.

‘Now I know I’m playing well and although it wasn’t against the strongest field, a win’s a win.

‘People were telling me that I would get through easily but you can’t afford to take qualifying for granted.

‘If you don’t do the job, you don’t have anywhere to play for the year so it was important to me.’

And after some good form, Wright is looking to continue that this week.

He said: ‘Last week, I played solidly the first day and ended with a couple of bogeys to shoot two under par.

‘For the second day, it was windy so I knew the scores would be higher but I shot one over par.

‘I knew I had done well enough to get through.

‘They have got 15 or 16 events on EuroPro Tour and that will mean I can play in them all, which is my aim.

‘So I need to get through qualifying this week.’