FORMER Blackpool FC defender Colin Greenall has a new goal – to qualify for golf’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes next month.
Greenall is turning a fresh page in his distinguished sporting career and will take part in regional qualifying for golf’s most important major at Moortown in Yorkshire next Monday.
On that day, hundreds of hopefuls up and down the country will compete for prized places in the next stage of the road to The Open – local final qualifying on July 3.
And no-one is more surprised than Greenall that he is actually taking part.
Places in The Open will be at a premium but the 48-year-old said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I am doing it just for the experience.”
Entering the world’s most prestigious golf championship was the furthest thing from Blackpool-based Greenall’s mind a few months ago, but he was persuaded to put his name forward after overtures from Daniel Webster, head professional at St Annes Old Links, where the former centre-half is a member.
Greenall, who also played for Oxford, Bury, Chester, Lincoln and Wigan in a 20-year soccer career, said: “I didn’t even know I was allowed to enter until Daniel told me I could because I was down to scratch.
“I am not going to Moortown just to make the numbers up and I want to do the best that I can.”
It is an extreme long shot that he will make it all the way to Lytham, but Greenall is used to pressurised sporting situations.
Indeed, he was thrown in at the deep end as a young footballer in 1980, when Alan Ball pitched him in for his Seasiders first team debut at the age of 16. It was the first of 183 League appearances in six years at Bloomfield Road.
He said: “I don’t know whether my football career will help me as a golfer, but it certainly won’t hinder me.
“I have been interested in golf for a long time, but it is only in the last five years that I started to get serious about it.
“Obviously, Saturdays were out as I was playing football, but since I started working for the Lancashire FA (in coaching and education) I have had more time for golf.”
Certainly, in the run-up to Moortown, he has been putting in serious practice.
“I have been up at six playing nine holes at Old Links, then going out again in the evenings after work.
“I will also be going to Moortown to have a practice.
“A lot of this is new to me – I have only just found out that I can’t use lasers to work out the yardage!”
Greenall’s caddie at Moortown will be his 22-year-old daughter Louise, someone not versed in golf like dad.
He added: “Louise is not a golfer but she will carry the bag.
“Her job will be to make sure she slows me down. I can be impatient and too quick out on the golf course!”
And if Greenall doesn’t make it to The Open, there is always the consolation of continuing to progress in the Gazette Matchplay tournament, in which he is still in the mix!