No place like home for Bingley St Ives challenge

Dane Bairstow is among the strong Bingley St Ives contingent for Sunday's Bradford Open

Dane Bairstow is among the strong Bingley St Ives contingent for Sunday's Bradford Open

First published in Sport by

DANE Bairstow will be surprised if a Bingley St Ives player fails to land the Bradford Open on their home course on Sunday.

A healthy contingent of the 68-strong field are from the host club and feature several former professionals and top district amateurs.

Yorkshire captain Darryl Berry, Richard Wheatley, Terry Brushwood, Andy Town and Warren Kemp all had spells in the paid ranks, as did Bairstow, who regained his amateur status last year.

Fellow St Ives members Henry Tetley, Jack Laybourne and Oliver Young are among those at the club with Bradford Union team experience.

Bairstow believes that depth of quality, combined with home advantage, should prove key.

He said: “If one of us doesn’t win it there is something wrong.

“There are 14 of us entering and playing on your own track has to be massive.

“Home advantage is important, just like in any sport.”

Bairstow believes his club-mate Town could be the one to watch – “He’s swinging it as good as I’ve seen” – but acknowledged there will be plenty of challenges from other clubs, with Rawdon’s recently-crowned Bradford Amateur champion James Firth chief among them.

However, St Ives’ hopes of a home winner are boosted by the fact that 2012 champion Will Whiteoak, of Shipley, is absent due to him playing in the English Amateur Championship in Devon, along with Bradford’s Ben Mountain, who finished third in the Bingley St Ives Salver last week.

Town, Young and Bairstow showed their own credentials in that Yorkshire Order of Merit event by coming in a shot behind Mountain in a tie for fourth spot.

Bairstow’s first-round 67 was the second highest score of the morning but the player from Lidget Green slipped back after four bad holes on the top part of the course around the turn.

Despite finding trouble there, he said: “I’ll still hit driver and play aggressively (on Sunday) as I play to shoot low scores.”

Bairstow is pleased with his short game at the moment – something which could be crucial at the weekend when he expects the greens to be quick.

Asked what score he thought might win it, he said: “If the weather stays like it is, and knowing what they are going to do to the greens, it could be four or five under.”

The 2011 Bradford Amateur champion is enjoying golf again without the pressure of trying to earn a living on the EuroPro Tour, but he is glad he tried it.

He said: “Living in a hotel gets lonely after you’ve missed the cut and played well but I’ve no regrets about turning pro.

“I learned a lot from it and brought that back into the amateur game.

“I don’t practise as much now but I’m just enjoying golf and spending time with my son Oscar.”

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