Hooper braced for tilt at Titleist glory


13PGAPlay Offs Hooper

Mark Hooper has declared himself fighting fit as he prepares to play in this month’s Titleist PGA Play-Offs in Turkey.

The PGA in England (East) No.1, who has been hampered by a bad back, will be chasing one of the 10 spots on offer at next year’s BMW PGA Championship which is one of the incentives on offer at Antalya Golf Club between November 23 and 25.

And the 29-year-old Raleigh PGA Professional, who can also secure a number of other European and Challenge Tour starts with victory on the PGA Sultan course, is hoping it will be third time lucky having played in 2008 and last year.

Twelve months ago, however, he finished well down the field after being troubled by a back injury but nevertheless has happy memories of the PGA Sultan course’s par five 539-yard 16th hole where he claimed two eagles and one birdie in the three rounds that were completed.

“I have always dreamed of playing in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth,” said Hooper.

“I have been working hard on my short game and I have had treatment on my back which is not too bad now.”

Hooper is hoping that help from fellow professional Lewis Atkinson as caddy for the £15,000 tournament will make a big difference. “Lewis was on my bag when I won the Virgin Atlantic Golf Classic at Stock Brook Country Club which gave me an unassailable lead in the Order of Merit with one event still to play and was an enormous help,” he added.

It’s been a great season for Hooper who picked up Order of Merit wins at the Weston Homes plc/Bishop’s Stortford Classic and Weston Homes/East Herts Classic at Stock Brook Country Club.

Joining Hooper in Turkey will be Jason Levermore and Ian Ellis of Costessey Park.

The experienced Levermore who this year became head professional at Channels Golf Club, finished 10th at Antalya last year and subsequently made the cut in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth for the second time in his career.

Ellis will be looking to qualify for a sixth time at Wentworth – his most recent appearance coming in 2008.

Defending champion Richard Wallis (Walmer & Kingsdown) will be bidding to win for a third successive year.

Titleist brand director, Matthew Johnson, commented: “Titleist strives to support golf in all aspects of the game and our partnership with The PGA and the PGA Play-Offs offers a fantastic platform to strengthen our ties with all PGA Professionals.

"We take great pride in validating the #1 ball in golf, used by the best players in the world from touring professionals through to PGA Professionals and elite amateurs.

“The PGA Play-Offs is a unique event in bringing the leading PGA pros together to compete for an opportunity to tee up at some of the European Tour’s biggest events including the flagship BMW PGA Championship and we look forward to seeing an exciting conclusion to the season."

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