KEIGHLEY Golf Club member Liam Blacka has been crowned TaylorMade-Adidas amateur champion following an exciting final at Turnberry.
Treading the same fairways as legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson during the famous Duel in the Sun at the 1977 Open, Blacka saw off the challenge of golfers from across the UK and Ireland.
A flying start saw him bag three gross birdies in the first seven holes on his way to a 33 stableford score to win by three points.
The 28-year-old gas engineer from Oxenhope was accompanied to the west coast of Scotland by Keighley’s professional Andy Rhodes, who played alongside Blacka as the pair also claimed the Pro-Am team prize by an impressive eight shots.
The 15-handicapper, who took the final qualifying berth for the grand final played on the iconic Ailsa Course, admitted the chance to play at one of the world's top courses had come as a surprise.
Blacka said: “I entered the medal at Keighley as I normally would. It was only afterwards that I realised a trip to Turnberry for the grand final was on the cards.
“It was quite a nerve-wracking experience waiting for the cut-off date and seeing if I would make it. Luckily I just crept in.
“It’s been an amazing experience. Turnberry is quite easily the best course I’ve ever played, the history and prestige around the place has made it truly memorable.”
TaylorMade-Adidas’s annual search for the top amateur sees more than 100 clubs across Britain stage qualifying events. The winner of each event is placed on to a national leaderboard, where the top 20 go through to the grand final along with their PGA professional.
The event is run in conjunction with the TGI Golf Partnership, Europe’s leading golf retail services group owned by PGA professionals.
Blacka's seven-under-par standard scratch net score in Keighley's June medal was just enough to see him sneak through to the final.
Rhodes said: "There were lots of sponsors' banners, photographs being taken and all the players had their names announced on the tee.
"For someone who has been away from golf and only just come back to it as a new member like Liam has, I would have thought playing in such an event could have been quite daunting.
"But he handled it really well and it was a pleasure to spend a few days with him."
Rhodes added: “Events like these are a great way for us as PGA pros to give added value to our club members. It’s nice to give the members opportunities like this to come and play some of the world’s most famous courses.
"From the moment we arrived, it has been perfect and winning the event has topped it off.”
As well as lifting the trophy, Blacka will travel to the prestigious Wentworth Golf Club to visit TaylorMade’s Performance Lab where he’ll receive a custom fitted set of TaylorMade irons, as well as a round of golf at the club’s famous West Course.
He will also get the chance to defend his title next year.
Simon Gilbert, TaylorMade-adidas Golf Regional Marketing Manager, who organised the event, said: “TaylorMade-adidas Golf are very proud to host this event in conjunction with the TGI Golf Partnership.
"It is integral that we support the green grass professional and in turn we are connecting with end consumers.
"I would like to thank the 100 clubs that participated in the qualifying events and congratulate the 20 amateurs and their professionals on qualifying for the final.
"TMaG are thrilled to offer amateurs and their professionals the opportunity to play the final on such an iconic golf course.”