Veteran bids for a place in Open

BIG INTERVIEW'Professional Golfer Paul Eales
BIG INTERVIEW'Professional Golfer Paul Eales

ST ANNES golfer Paul Eales, a veteran of seven Open Champion-ships and one United States Open, bids to make it to Royal Lytham when he tees up tomorrow at the West Lancashire course.

And this time he will have a little help in his bid to make it to The Open proper, via local final qualifying – from his 14-year-old son Josh.

The youngster will act as caddie for his dad, on a day when scores of hopefuls at four North West venues scrap it out for Open places.

Eales senior said: “Josh is more interested in cricket than golf – he’s an all-rounder at Lytham Cricket Club and has played in all the teams there, apart from the first team.

“He loves fielding, and is a spin bowler – he can also hit the ball well, as well as hitting a golf ball a long way.

“Josh is a junior member at Fairhaven and Lytham Green Drive Golf Clubs, but cricket is his main interest.

“Maybe walking round the course with his dad will fire his enthusiasm for the game.”

Eales is playing out of Hillside Golf Club after his move from Garstang and doesn’t go into tomorrow’s 36-hole qualifier with high hopes of success. He said: “I have no expectations whatsoever, because I am not playing regularly, but I have always said I would walk over broken glass to compete in The Open.

“But really, I am going along for the ride, and to go out there and have a good time with Josh.

“There is always a chance I can put together two decent rounds, but I will be up against full-time golfers, and I have always said West Lancashire is as tough as Royal Lytham, and maybe the toughest course on this coast.”

Regardless of whether he makes it as a player, Eales will still be involved in The Open. He will commentate The Open Radio service, as well as doing work for IMG Media – he no longer has commentary commitments with the BBC TV and radio.

He is a coach with England Golf, and also worked with the Lancashire ladies’ team which recently won the northern counties title at Ganton.

At 48, Eales is two years away from being eligible for the Seniors circuit. He said: “I have an exemption for that because of my past record on the tour, but if I am going to do that seriously I will have to play a lot more.

“I am under no illusions, because I would be playing against people who were better than I was on tour.”

Open qualifying will take place at four venues.

As well as West Lanc- ashire, there are comp- etitions at St Annes Old Links, Southport & Ainsdale and Hillside.

There are 12 Open places from the four venues.