Golf: Belt wants McIlroy on step up to big stage

Alex Belt
Alex Belt
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Spot the odd one out – Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Ernie Els and Alex Belt.

It doesn’t require a golf afficianado to see that from that quartet of golfers there are three superstars and a name very few have heard of.

Yet Alex Belt – the odd one out of course – has the chance this week to rub shoulders with the galacticos of golf at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Such is the beauty of golf that Belt’s form in the national PGA order of merit last year has earned him the chance to ply his trade against the finest player on the planet right now in McIlroy, and one of the great names of golf in Ernie Els – among others – in the European Tour’s flagship event.

Belt – who plays out of Oulton Hall and Snainton Hall in Scarborough as part of his representation with Q Hotels – is competing for a share of the €5million prize fund at the famous stretch of Surrey real estate.

Not that 29-year-old Belt, a 2000-1 shot to succeed this week, is planning on playing it safe. “I’m very much looking forward to the challenge of playing on such a big stage as the BMW PGA Championship,” said Belt, who qualified for the BMW PGA Championship after finishing fifth in the PGA play-offs in Turkey at the end of last season.

“It’s going to be a great insight and learning experience for me in many different ways.

“I don’t have a target for the week, I will just try to be focusing on the way I process my thoughts and execute my shots as best I can.

“I used to set goals and targets for every year but I haven’t set any for the past three years. I hope to just be able to enjoy the experience and learn from it, from watching how the best players in the world practice to how they plot their way around the course.”

Belt has spent the last five months preparing for what he hopes will be the biggest payday of his career, honing his swing at Oulton Hall as well as paying regular visits to the West Course.

He said: “My preparations have been slowly building up since the start of the year, from making myself familiar with the course layout and ensuring I have the correct equipment, to working with my team of people including a swing coach, physio, psychologist and putting coach.

“I use the facilities regularly at Oulton Hall and believe that they are extremely beneficial to every level of golfer.

“It’s particularly great as Oulton can cater for my fitness regime in the hotel gym and my short game in the new short-game area.

“I had a practice round a few weeks ago on the West Course. It plays longer than I thought, but as long as you are in position after the tee shots then that makes life a little easier. The bunkers are placed perfectly, which makes the tee shots tricky.”

Belt is still waiting to learn who he will play alongside for the first two rounds, though it is likely to be fellow regional order of merit winners.

But come the weekend, if he can qualify, there is only one man he wants hear his name called out alongside.

“Rory McIlroy – that woyld be ideal scenario,” laughed the Bridlington-born star.

“But I’m not too bothered about playing with specific players but I’d most like to play alongside anybody as long as it’s at the weekend.”

Howley Hall's James Appleyard, left, and Miles Foster - Yorkshire Challenge 2017 Supreme champions.

Yorkshire Challenge entries open on Wednesday with priority booking