England and Wales (North) Region
24 Jul 13
Ben Mason is hoping to celebrate passing his final PGA exams by retaining the Manchester Open crown at Marriott Worsley Park. And he's also targeted a dream double by adding the Leeds Cup a few weeks later!
It's a big ask but the 36-year-old former European Tour player reckons it would be the perfect incentive as he prepares to start his new job as head professional of the Waterfront Golf Academy in Rotherham.
"I'll settle for either title. Winning the Manchester Open was a real bonus because it help to pay for my wedding at Christmas. Two years ago I had one hand on the Leeds Cup, a trophy I've wanted to win since I was a lad, only to lose a play-off," he said
David Smith ruined his chance of that occasion but he'll be no threat next week (July 30-31) at his home club Worsley Park, where he prevailed in 2007, because he's been nursing a shoulder injury for 10 months.
But there be no shortage of challengers in the 128-strong field, which included five previous winners, for the 11th staging of the 36-hole tournament which counts for PGA North Order of Merit points.
Among them is ex-Tour winner Jon Bevan who is planning to fire Great Britain & Ireland to PGA Cup success in September at Slaley Hall after being appointed vice-captain.
The 46-year-old will be Russell Weir's right hand man when GB&I take on the might of the PGA of America, having once played in the winning side, and has made quite an impact in the region since his recent move to Rhos-on-Sea.
Manchester-based Jon Cheetham looks to have rekindled the form that helped to win the Manchester Open at Mottram Hall a decade ago when, Mason will have noted, he also claimed the Leeds Cup!
Morpeth's David Clark, who triumphed a year later at the same Cheshire course, leads the North East contingent while Mason will be looking over his shoulder at 2011 winner Aran Wainwright, from Mid Yorks, and Cheshire's Chris Sands who triumphed the year before.