Mason is freed up to defend Leeds Cup

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IT IS not just schoolchildren who will be rejoicing at the arrival of the summer holidays.

Ben Mason, who will look to defend the Leeds Cup today and tomorrow at Moortown, is also pleased at their arrival since it has freed up more time for him to fine-tune his game

Mason’s wife Joanna is a teacher and the closed school gates have opened the way to more playing time as he looks to retain professional golf’s oldest trophy on the 100th occasion for which it has been played.

“It’s the biggest we play for in the region but it’s great to win it in any year,” says Mason, 38, who coaches at Rotherham club Waterfront Golf.

“Moortown is in an area I grew up in and I spent a lot of time there as a youngster so I’m looking forward to going back.

“I used to watch the Leeds Cup as a lad and I set my sights on winning it when I came off the tour five years ago.

“It would be great to defend it but there are a lot of other fine players in the field in better form than I am in the Yorkshire area, including Iain Pyman and James Freeman.

“I also note that Garry Houston, the 2012 winner, has captured the Welsh National PGA Championship, the Cheshire & North Wales Open and Mercedes-Benz International pro-am in Abu Dhabi already this season so, no doubt, he’ll be in contention again.

“Hopefully, the Leeds Cup will inspire me to up my game because I’ve not been playing much recently because of my teaching commitments and looking after my 17-month-old son Billy. My wife Joanna is a teacher who has just started school holidays so I will get time to play a bit more.”

Other past winners in the 160-strong field, when two days of action begin today, include Paul Carman (1992), Gordon Brand (1998), Jonathan Cheetham (2003), Simon Edwards (2005), John Wells (2007) Steve Parry (2010), David Smith (2011), Garry Houston (2012) and Nick Ludwell (2013).

PGA North secretary Graham Maly said: “This is truly a unique tournament.

“The cup was presented to the PGA on its formation in 1901 by the Lord Mayor of Leeds to be competed for annually by professional golfers.

“Open champion Harry Vardon was the first to have his name inscribed on it at Cobble Hall.”

He added: “Moortown also hosted the first Ryder Cup on British soil in 1929 and since then most of the country’s top amateur competitions so there’s a lot of history attached to the club.”

The Mayor of Leeds who presented the Leeds Cup to the PGA was William Penrose-Green, one of the founders of Leeds Golf Club and also its president.

Competition for the Leeds Cup was suspended during the two world wars. The 1939 winner was Bill Davies, of Wallasey, who, at the outbreak of World War II, buried the Leeds Cup along with other silverware from his club, in an ice box and sacks in the sand dunes along the coast until the end of hostilities in1945.

The 1929 winner, Abe Mitchell, who was not attached to a club at the time, later became private professional to Samuel Ryder, who was a member at the Veralum (St Albans) club. The figure on the Ryder Cup is modelled on Mitchell.

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