Putter loyalty reaps reward

Mark Bradley
Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley was on the verge of ditching his putter prior to the regional Open Championship qualifier at Clitheroe – but in the end he was mighty glad he stuck with his old faithful.

And little wonder as he topped the list of qualifiers at the East Lancashire venue with a 69, two under par.

That meant the former Knott End golfer, now at Southport and Ainsdale, progressed to local final qualifying on Tuesday of next week.

Bradley, who has been professional at Chorley Golf Club for 11 years, said: “I played in the North Region PGA at the De Vere last week and putted terribly.

“Because of that, I was going to give my old putter the sack for Clitheroe, but at the last minute I decided to stick with the old one and now I am glad that I did.”

Bradley, 38, made an ideal start to his round at Clitheroe with two birdies, but he let it slip after such a promising start. He added: “I was one over after 12, and I told myself that I had better get my act into gear.

“I managed to birdie three out of the closing five holes.”

That was good enough for a 69 to share top spot in the qualifiers with Daniel Wardrop (Didsbury) and Mark Young, of Longridge.

Now Bradley is waiting to find out which venue he will play for local final qualifying on Tuesday – the four venues are St Annes Old Links, West Lancashire, Southport & Ainsdale and Hillside.

Bradley is in no doubt about his preference.

He said: “Having been brought up in Knott End and been a member at the club, I am hoping to be drawn at Old Links because I know it well.”

Bradley’s likely caddy on Tuesday is fellow professional David Smith.

Bradley said: “David missed getting through the Open qualifier by one shot.

“I carried his bag when he was in the European Tour school, and I am hoping that he returns the favour.

“It was only last minute thing to enter The Open, but as it was at Lytham, I thought I would give it a go.”

Places will be at a premium with only three Open places for each course at next week’s local final qualifying.