Duggleby named as the year's top golfer

GOLF By John Drake EMMA Duggleby may have surrendered top spot in the English order of merit but she is still the leading amateur in British women's golf in the eyes of many.

The Yorkshire star has just added to her laurels by being named the Daily Telegraph woman golfer of the year for 2004.

The Curtis Cup international, winner of most of the major titles in Britain, is one alone among the elite of the amateur game in that she has never considered turning professional.

"I'm satisfied with my lifestyle as it is," said 33-year-old Duggleby, who mixes duties in the pro shop and the secretary's office at her club Malton & Norton.

"I enjoy playing amateur golf and doing the job I have. I like the balance in my life."

That leaves her only a limited number of weeks to compete in top events during her holidays and a big target in 2005 will be the British Amateur Strokeplay at Nairn in August.

This is the only major title to have eluded her in a career that began with her bursting onto the national scene with victory in the 1994 British Matchplay.

Duggleby, who will be lauded as golfer of the year at a lunch in London next week, will begin her season by defending the Scottish Open Strokeplay at Royal Troon in April, following a trip to Portugal for a warm weather training stint with the Great Britain & Ireland squad in March.

Then comes the English Amateur at Burnham & Berrow and the Yorkshire Championship at Wakefield, both in May, and the British Amateur Matchplay at Littlestone, Kent in June.

She seems a certainty to make the side for the European Team Championship in Sweden and to defend the Vagliano Trophy in Paris, both in July.

Selected

"One event I will likely miss is the English Strokeplay at Southport & Ainsdale as it falls between the European Team and Vagliano dates, that is if I am selected for those," she said.

Yorkshire will also be looking to her as they bid to retain the Northern Counties title at West Lancs in June, then go on to defend the English title at Brancepeth Castle in September.

Duggleby was equal top points scorer for Great Britain & Ireland in the Curtis Cup match at Formby in June, when she was a little disappointed not to come up against American ace Michelle Wie.

Teenager Wie will do battle with the men again on the US PGA Tour next month after accepting a sponsor's exemption to play in the Sony Open.

The move came as no surprise since the 14-year-old came within a shot of making the cut at the event last year.

Finch joins Els for his Tour debut

FORMER Yorkshire champion Richard Finch was making his debut as a fully fledged member of the European Tour in the dunhill championship at Leopard Creek, Mpumalanga in South Africa today.

He was up against the mighty Ernie Els, the clear favourite for the title as the South African star commences his bid to retain the European Tour order of merit title.

Finch earned his place on the tour at last month's qualifying school in Spain along with several other Yorkshire players.

Also in action in South Africa are Doncaster's Ian Garbutt, Sheffield trio Neil Cheetham, Gareth Davies and Oliver Whiteley and Darren Leng of Brough.

Sheffield's Robert Wragg was taking part in the Peru Open, the third event of the Challenge Tour swing of Latin America.

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BAILDON had to give a big start to the 29 other teams, having a handicap allowance of minus one, but they still won the Bradford Alliance four-man team event – the best two scores to count – by two points at Hollins Hall yesterday.

Club professional Ricky Masters teamed up with assistant Sean Wright, Yorkshire county man Simon Bell, playing off plus two, and one-handicapper Matthew Roche to post 85 stableford points.

West Bradford's four won a card play-off against West Bowling to claim second-place prizes in the final competition before the mid-winter break.

Denison heading for the sunshine

LEEDS amateur champion Danny Denison, from Howley Hall, will head for South Africa in January as a member of the England A squad which will undergo warm weather training and coaching in preparation for the 2005 season.

Fellow Yorkshire player Michael Skelton will be in the elite squad that also warms up on the Cape.

The aim of Denison next season is to make his mark in a major event and earn promotion to the elite squad which, says England's performance director Nigel Furniss, is far from being a closed shop.

A review of the elite squad, which followed some members turning professional, has taken place and seen four newcomers step up.

They include Lancashire county champion Matthew Baldwin, 18, yet to make his first senior appearance for England though he is already a member of the Great Britain squad for the Walker Cup. He is the current England boys team captain.

Baldwin has been promoted along with Suffolk's Lawrence Dodd, Adam Gee of Surrey and Devon's James Ruth, all full internationals.

Skelton, 20, from Middlesbrough, has been capped at every level since 1999, is a former winner of the McGregor Trophy and the Welsh Open Amateur and was a member of the victorious Walker Cup team last year.

The way is still open for further additions and Furniss said: "It is important to understand that the elite squad is continually under review."

Elite squad: Matthew Baldwin (Hesketh), Lee Corfield (Burnham & Berrow), Lawrence Dodd (Thetford), Adam Gee (Leatherhead), Gary Lockerbie (Penrith), Matthew Richardson (The Buckinghamshire), James Ruth (Tavistock), Michael Skelton (Middlesbrough), Paul Waring (Bromborough), Gary Wolstenholme (Kilworth Springs).

End of era at GARFORTH

AFTER tending the greens and setting up the course at Garforth for 33 years, Colin Garnett can now play it as often as he likes.

On his retirement as head greenkeeper Garnett was awarded life membership of the club and presented with an inscribed glass bowl at a dinner in his honour.

Making the presentation were John Macmillan, left, chairman of the greens committee, and club captain John L Robson, right.