Hayling Open to hosting major qualifier

Hayling's Mark Treleaven will be gunning for Jamega Tour glory on his home course
Hayling's Mark Treleaven will be gunning for Jamega Tour glory on his home course
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Plans are afoot for Hayling Golf Club to put itself forward as a possible venue for Open qualifying as they prepare for their latest shot at hosting tournament golf.

After battling the elements last year, the season-opening Jamega Tour event is set to return to the Hayling links on April 11 and 12 – just a day after the green jacket is handed out at the US Masters in what many view as the traditional curtain-raiser of the golf season.

While Hayling’s head greenkeeper Lauchlan Millar went above and beyond the call of duty last year in keeping the 36-hole Jamega tournament in play despite torrential rain and 50mph winds, club officials are now assessing other potential hosting opportunities.

Top amateur and Challenge Tour events are being considered, and the prestige of hosting a stage of qualifying for The Open Championship is also on the agenda.

Managing secretary Ian Walton said: ‘This is our second year hosting the Jamega Tour.

‘It was pretty wild last year – in fact, it was probably the toughest conditions I have seen down here.

‘But thankfully it didn’t put them off from coming back this year!

‘The idea of hosting the Jamega Tour was to see if we could host a professional event and did we have the appetite for it? The answer was yes on both counts.

‘In the hardest conditions, we delivered 36 holes of quality tournament golf.

‘But I will be writing to the EGU to see if we can attract a high-profile amateur event. We’ve hosted the Logan Trophy and the English Ladies’ Closed Championship in the past but we’d love to pull a big amateur event like the Brabazon or maybe a Challenge Tour event in the future.

‘But we’re also thinking about putting the club forward as an Open qualifier venue.

‘It’s within the realms and we just need to let the R&A know we’re interested.

‘There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. The golf course is a good test, our greens are at Championship standard and our members enjoy the course being used for high-profile events.

‘It would be great to see something like that happening at Hayling.’

While the Jamega Tour is normally aimed at aspiring pros looking to further their careers, the tournament has already attracted a quality entry field, with six Challenge Tour regulars and some with European Tour experience going for the £5,000 top prize.

Kyron Sullivan, Kieron Staunton, Simon Lilly, Steve Surry, Lee James, Mike Deeley and Dan Brook will be among the favourites.

Defending champion James Busby – who shot a remarkable three under par 36-hole score to win last year – will be back, while Hayling’s Mark Treleaven will fancy his chances around his home track.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s James Ablett, who was joint third with Treleaven last year, will also be in the running.

Entry is free for spectators and play will start at 8am on both days.