Telford geared up for title defence

RATHMORE’S Wayne Telford (27) continues to wait for a first men’s senior cap despite claiming the Magners North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush last year.

However, he hopes that he can clinch the international honour this week when he defends the North title against 299 hopefuls who tee-off at ‘The Port’ this morning.

“It is never easy to win the North of Ireland Championship and it is even harder to retain the title,” said the plus-two-handicapper.

“I was a bit shocked at winning last year but I am positive about retaining the title.

“I have had a chat with my friend Graeme McDowell and he has given me some good advice. I also rang him last year when I reached the last 16 and his advice was helpful. Since then I have played with Ulster and I am in the senior international panel but I haven’t been capped yet. Maybe this week, if I put in a good performance, it will get me a cap for the Home Internationals.”

Telford, a full-time amateur golfer, has thoughts of turning professional in the near future.

“I’ll give the amateur game another season after this one and aim for the Tour School in 2011.”

Ten of the last 20 winners, including Gareth Maybin, Michael Hoey, Brian McElhinney, Darren Clarke, Shane Lowry, Gareth Shaw and Keith Nolan are among those now playing for pay. That means that few former winners, apart from Telford, are in today’s 300-strong draw.

Telford paid a visit to Troon and Turnberry to sharpen up on his game while he has tinkered with his clubs putting stronger shafts into his irons and replacing the heads. He feels that those changes have been a help to his game.

“I haven’t won anything special since last July at the North but I have been hitting the ball very well without scoring great. These changes, I hope, will make the big difference.”

The championship will wind its way towards the semi-finals and final on Friday with the 64 matchplay qualifiers known tomorrow night following strokeplay rounds on Dunluce and The Valley.


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