Players Championship secures Dodd and Ryall



Former European Open champion Stephen Dodd (pictured) makes his first appearance of the season in the South West region 36-hole Players Club Championship at the Cumberwell Park complex near Bath.

The Welshman from Barry, who won three times on the European Tour and the Welsh National Championship three times, is paired with Mark Wiggett (Dudsbury) and young left hander Ben Martin, who has just moved  from Teign Valley to Exeter, in the opening round on Tuesday, the day after his 47th birthday. The last of his five European Tour appearances this year was in the Irish Open last month.

Kevin Spurgeon (Ferndown) plays his first event after almost snatching his second European Senior Tour title in Switzerland last week. The former Mauritius Open champion lost to a Paul Wesselingh birdie at the third extra-hole of a play-off.

The 58-year-old former West Region captain leads the newly-instigated regional Seniors Order of Merit and he could forge an unassailable lead with another impressive showing.

He will be joined by fellow European Senior Tour regular and former Order of Merit winner George Ryall (Players Club), who finished tied 11th in Switzerland.

The smart money this year is on the Welsh-based contingent. Sion Bebb (Vale Hotel) has won six pro-ams this year. Finishing second to Liam Bond (Marriott St Pierre) in the third of seven Race to Woodbury Park Order of Merit tournaments in the Microsoft Masters at Bowood took him to the top of the honours board.

Bond, who also won the season opener the Total Triumph Classic at Oake Manor, knows the course well as he is the defending Players champion.

Paul Hendriksen, who won at Bournemouth and was deposed as OOM leader after Bowood, also knows the Bradford-on-Avon course well. In the inaugural event in 2010 he finished as the leading professional behind the club’s manager Ali James, the former Wiltshire county captain who is not playing this year.

Hendriksen has shown consistent form all season and has targeted another win to take him into the Titleist PGA Play-Offs later this year.

Somerset’s David Dixon is another formidable late entry after pledging his support to the region. Based at his original club Enmore Park, the winner of the St Omer Open on the European Tour has limited playing opportunities in Europe this year.

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