England and Wales (North) Region
18 Aug 15
Welshman Garry Houston has emerged red-hot favourite to win next week's Manchester Open at Marriott Worsley Park.
Last month the 44-year-old Chester-based professional swept to his second Leeds Cup victory in four years at Moortown.
Leading up to that event he had captured six other titles this season including the Welsh National PGA Championship, the Cheshire & North Wales Open and Mercedes-Benz International pro-am in Abu Dhabi. And he also won the inaugural Manchester Open at Mottram Hall in 2002.
But Carden Park-attached Houston, who hopes to win back his European Tour card at this autumn's qualifying school, faces some strong competition in the 13th staging of the 36-hole tournament on August 26-27.
It's likely to come from any of the leading players in the Order of Merit in which he's lying a close second at Matthew Tottey, from North Wales, who won the season-opening PGA North Region Championship at Carus Green.
Another Welshman, Windermere's Simon Edwards who finished fourth in the Leeds Cup is enjoying another successful campaign evidence by his third place in the rankings.
Scott Jackson, beaten by a two shots at Moortown, went on to win the HCSS Cheshire & North Wales Masters at his home course Disley two days later.
In the absence of defending champion Alex Belt, who is playing a PGA Europro Tour event, his fellow Snainton attached professional John Wells could lead the Yorkshire challenge.
And don't rule out Mossock Hall's David Shacklady repeating his 2013 Manchester Open success, or Swinton Park's David Smith who was runner-up this year at Carus Green and is also a past Leeds Cup winner.
The tournament, which has attracted a full field of 130, will be preceded by pro-am on August 25 run in conjunction with the Manchester Golf Alliance.