Talented juniors to battle it out at Stoke-by-Nayland

SWING TIME: Stoke-by-Nayland's Alex English fires off the tee during last year's Stoke-by-Nayland Junior Open, where he was the best under-14
SWING TIME: Stoke-by-Nayland's Alex English fires off the tee during last year's Stoke-by-Nayland Junior Open, where he was the best under-14
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The biggest 36-hole junior golf tournament in the country will swing into action at Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club on Tuesday with a field of 133 players.

The Stoke-by-Nayland Junior Open will see aspiring golfers up to the age of 18 test their skills over the club’s two championship golf courses.

As well as a crop of home hopefuls hoping to steal the limelight with their inside knowledge of the steeply sloping fairways, competitors from Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire also believe they can be crowned champion.

It is not just pride and honour they are playing for, with a £2,500 prize table in equipment and clothing put on by event sponsors Cobra Puma Golf.

Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club secretary Adrian Bullock said: “We are only about 10 (competitors) down this year, so it is as big as ever — it is the biggest 36-hole competition there is.

“They play two rounds in a day, one on each course, in a one-off tournament for us.”

But he explained the 18 holes over the Gainsborough Course, seen on Sky television being used in the English Challenge on the Challenge Tour over the last few years, will also count towards the Daily Telegraph’s Race to Dubai junior rankings.

Sam O’Brien, who plays off a handicap of three, is the one to watch for home chances in the boys’ competition and tees off on the Gainsborough Course (first tee) at 7.30am and the Constable Course (10th tee) at 12.30pm.

Newton Green’s rising star Alice Barlow, who plays off a handicap of six, tees off in the girls’ competition at 8.26am on the Gainsborough Course (first tee) and 1.26pm on the Constable Course (10th tee).

The Cornard schoolgirl pulled off a remarkable double last year by winning the Suffolk Ladies’ Junior Matchplay title on top of the senior title Berendt Jug she won at Waldringfield earlier in the year, both as a 13-year-old.

Barlow, who is in the England girls development squad, will be in the girls’ field along with reigning Stoke-by-
Nayland champion and England team member Ashleigh Greenham of West Essex, who playes off a handicap of plus-two.

Reigning boys’ champion Todd Clements, of Braintree, who plays off three, tees off at 8.18am on the Gainsborough Course (first tee) and 1.42pm on the Constable (10th tee).