Marcus Fraser, Michael Hoey, Oliver Farr and Stuart Manley are all playing this week in the re-launched European Open sponsored by Porsche on the European Tour.
Oliver Farr plays in the KLM Dutch Open this week, while Stuart Manley and Chris Selfridge travel to Kazaakhstan for the largest event on the 2015 European Challenge Tour, where the winner virtually assures himself of finishing in the Top 15 of the rankings.
Michael Hoey and Oliver Farr were featured on European Tour weekly tonight, both players are playing in the Russian Open this week, where Michael Hoey is looking to repeat one of his 5 victories that he has had on European Tour.
Three amateur golfers are hoping to reduce their handicaps and transform their games after a round to remember with an emerging star of the European Tour.
Si Monckton of Eastbourne, Greg Robinson from Stockport and Andrew Law from Sheffield won a social networking competition with Bridgestone, the world’s largest tyre manufacturer, to tee it up with their sponsored star for 2015 Ollie Farr.
The trio travelled down to the Worcester Golf and Country Club for a round with the Welshman, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise onto the European Tour, having won the EuroPro Tour in 2013, before qualifying through the Challenge Tour rankings in 2014.
This year has been a steep learning curve for the 27 year-old, with a number of promising rounds in esteemed company offering hope for a strong finish to the season.
But meeting 18 handicapper Greg, Andrew off 15 and 12 handicapper Si still presented a bit of pressure for Ollie to live up to his reputation, albeit not quite on a par with a first hole tee shot at Wentworth with Sergio Garcia and co.
Greg said: “Playing with Ollie today has really spurred me on. I’ll be practicing harder to try and get my handicap down after this, having learned so much from spending some hours on a top course with a European Tour professional.”
Si said: “It has been an amazing experience to play with Ollie. There has been some good stuff, some not-so-good stuff, but I have picked up a lot of tips that will stand my game in good stead. It’s been a day to cherish.”
Andrew said: “Ollie’s advice was really helpful. To watch his swing close-up was incredible too. You see how the pros hit the ball on TV, but to see it in person gave a whole new perspective. It is something to aspire to, for sure.”
Ollie said that meeting the three amateurs and playing a round with them was a lovely experience.
“They were all very good players in their own rights. I tried to impart one or two tips and words of encouragement but if they carry on like they did with me, I’m sure their handicaps will be coming down before they know it.”
Bridgestone already boasts a high-profile presence in the world of golf and wanted to build upon this with a sponsorship that brought its range of tyres closer to golfers’ minds and identified Ollie as an ideal match.
Bridgestone’s sales and marketing director Farrell Dolan said: “Bridgestone is the world’s largest tyre manufacturer and we think that a sponsorship with one of the sport’s most exciting young stars is the perfect fit for us, as we reach out to a vibrant new audience.”
Stuart Manley is looking forward to returning to Finland as the European Challenge Tour lands in Turku this week for the GANT Open at Aura GC.
The Welshman has fond memories of this event after claiming his maiden professional victory in 2013, taking a four shot lead into the final round and holding off Portugal’s José-Filipe Lima to win by two shots at Kytӓjӓ Golf.
This year the tournament has a new home, Aura GC, and a new title sponsor, and Manley was close to skipping the event after playing non-stop for more than a month, but the lure of returning to Finland proved too strong to resist.
“I have very fond memories of Finland and of this tournament,” said the 36 year old. “This is the end of a run of six tournaments for me so I was close to pulling out but because of the memories from two years ago I thought I would play again.
“It was great two years ago. I was leading pretty much all week and to hang on in the last round there and be leading going into the last day, then close it out for my first Challenge Tour win, was pretty special. I have great memories and I had a good year that year as well, so it was great.
“I had been leading in tournaments before but never finished the job off so it was even more satisfactory to actually get that win, it meant a lot.
“I was under a lot of pressure because I had been last group a lot of times on the Challenge Tour and ended up with a lot of second places so to get the win meant a lot. It shows that you can play and win under pressure.
“I asked a couple of the Finnish lads about the new course and they said it should suit me.
“It’s an old school golf course, a bit shorter than normal, fiddly, you’ve got to position your golf ball well, and that normally suits me"
Michael Hoey won his first round match at the Paul Lawrie Match play event in Scotland with a 2&1 win over Max Kieffer. While in Madeira Stuart Manley is tied 5th after an opening round of 66, 6 under par.
Marcus Fraser, who 12 months ago was starting his rehabilitation from a major wrist operation, tees up this week in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, his 16th event since his return to professional golf at the latter end of 2014. In these events Marcus has missed just one cut, and has had 4 top 10 finishes, this included finishing 2nd in the Thailand Championship , which qualified him for next weeks Open Championship at St Andrews.
After qualifying for the Open Championship in Thailand at the end of 2014, Marcus said “I played in The Open at St Andrews in 2005 as the first Major I ever played. I was jumping out of my skin on the first tee but hopefully I’ll be calmer next year. The Open is my favourite championship of the year and the best championship in the world so I can’t wait to get back there.”
One missed cut, and an impressive stroke average of 70.43 in these 16 events has seen his World ranking climb back steadily, currently he is at 157, having dropped to 304 in December 2014. Fraser from Melbourne, a 3 time winner on the European Tour, and a former Eisenhower Cup winner as an amateur is currently playing some of the most consistent golf of his career.
Marcus will play 2 more events on the European Tour after The Open Championship, in Switzerland and again Scotland, before going home to Melbourne for a mid- season break, prior to returning in September to play the remaining 9 events on the European Tour, ending with the 2015 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November.
Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey, and Chris Selfridge both finished in the the Top 10 last week, Hoey shot 13 under par at the BMW in Germany to finish T7, and Chris Selfridge continued to impress as he finished T10 at the Scottish Hydro Challenge,and subsequently moved up to 54th on the Challenge Tour's Race To Oman after just 4 events as a professional. Michael plays in the French Open this week, while Chris plays at the Aegean Airlines Challenge in Germany.
Both players will be playing at Galgorm Castle in the NI Open- presented by Sphere Global and Ulster Bank- from August 6th-9th where Michael is the tournament Ambassador.
Overlooking the 18th Hole at Chambers Bay - US Open 2015
BlackStar Golf's Ollie Farr and Marcus Fraser played together today on the first Official Practice day at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay Golf Cub, the stunning venue that this week hosts the 2015 US Open,which only opened in 2007 is located just outside of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest of the US. The course which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr was originally a century old gravel pit has been transformed into a stunning and demanding golf course which is very worthy of holding the US Open.
Marcus who is playing in his 3rd US Open, said after his round today " The course is definitely unique, it has a very links feel to it, almost more so than some of the links courses in the UK, we certainly don't have anything like this back home in Australia, the key to scoring is going to be staying patient and having a good feel on and around the greens "
Marcus Fraser hitting his second shot to the Par 5 6th Hole
Ollie is making his debut at the US Open was very impressed with his first view of Chambers Bay " I enjoy links golf, so I thought the course was great , it is tough especially around the greens, but although it is difficult, and I certainly didn't expect anything different at the US Open I do think it is fair, good shots will be rewarded, but as Marcus and I were saying you have to have great feel and imagination around the greens."
Ollie Farr drives off the 5th hole in his first practice round at Chambers Bay.
Both players continue their build up tomorrow, with another practice round, but this time they will be playing in the afternoon, Ollie explained the reasoning for that " The charactersitics of the course change dramatically through out the day, in the morning the course is softer due the watering in the night, but my second round tee time on Friday is just after 3pm, and by that time of day, with the warm weather that is forecasted the greens will have dried out and will therefore become alot firmer, so its important that I am prepared for the different playing conditions that I will experiance on the first two days."
The 2015 US Open Championship starts on Thursday with Marcus teeing off at 7.00am,while Ollie tees off at 9.01am.
Oliver Farr will make his first appearance at The US Open next week, his first major , while Marcus Fraser will be making his 3rd appearance in the US Open, having previously played in 2007 & 2013, both players came through the tough qualifying at Walton Heath on May 25th.
Follow their progress through the week on BlackStargolf.net.
Chris Selfridge delivered another very solid performance this week in the Swiss Challenge, only his second event as a Professional by finishing T13, he now is already standing at 74 in the Challenge Tour " Race To Oman "
US Open bound Oliver Farr finished T43 in the Nordea Masters in Sweden.
Oliver Farr has now qualified for the 2015 US Open and will join fellow BlackStar Golfer Marcus Fraser at the 2015 US Open. BlackStar' s new signing, Chris Selfridge started life as a professional with a very good T17 position in the European Challenge Tour event in Czech Republic.
23 year old Chris Selfridge from Castledawson, Northern Ireland has signed with BlackStar Golf. Chris, who will leave the amateur ranks this week currently inside the Top 100 of the Amateur World Rankings, has also just graduated from the University of Toledo, Ohio with a degree in Marketing and Communications.
Chris said “I am delighted to join BlackStar Golf, and obviously will be trying to gain my full tour card for 2016 through the playing opportunities that I am hoping to have on the European Challenge Tour this year.”
Jeremy Robinson, director of BlackStar Golf said “We are extremely pleased to have signed Chris, he has had a very successful amateur career, including being the North of Ireland Amateur Champion for the past two years, along with representing Ireland in the Home Internationals since 2012. Chris has also performed very consistently over the past four years on the US College circuit where he has been Mid-American conference all first team for the past three years “
Chris will start his professional career at the D + D Real Czech Challenge on May 28th 201 at the Golf & Spa Kuneticka Hora, Dritec.