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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  8 May 2006

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Formby Hall golfing glory

FORMBY Hall amateurs Gary Marsh and Chris Kelly and their club's PGA professionals Gary Butler and Bill Fletcher are chasing golfing glory in Europe's biggest pro-am competition, the Lombard Trophy.  The pair tee up in the regional final on 2 June at Hesketh Golf Club, with a luxury 5 day trip to Portugal up for grabs if they can fend off stiff competition in the better-ball medal play format.

Marsh earned the chance to partner Fletcher by winning the club qualifying competition on 8 April with a nett score of 77.  Kelly earned the chance to partner Butler by winning the club qualifying competition on 1 April with a score of 40 points.

Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Lombard Trophy is now in its 12th year and annually attracts more than 100,000 golfers from across Great Britain and Ireland.  With a prize fund of nearly £80,000, including £10,000 to the winning professional, it remains Europe's largest and most prestigious pro-am event.  The winners of 16 regional finals will enjoy an expenses paid trip to compete in the Grand Final held on the Ocean Course, Vale Do Lobo, Portugal from 6 to 10 September.

Gary Marsh, lives in Tarleton with his wife and 2  sons. He has been playing golf for 10 years and plays off a handicap of 12. 

Chris Kelly, 48, is a college chief executive living in Formby. He is married with 2 sons. He has been playing golf for 10 years and plays off a handicap of 19. 

Bill Fletcher, 52, has been a professional at Formby Hall for 2 and a half years. 

Gary Butler, 44, has been a professional at Formby for 7 years.

The winning professional in the regional final receives £475 and there are also valuable prizes for the top amateurs.  Last year's winners were the Derbyshire club, Kedleston Park, represented by PGA Professional Paul Wesselingh, and his amateur partner Chris Nye.

999 CHIEF ANSWERS 18-MONTH CALL TO RACE PACIFIC

AN AMBULANCE chief is waving farewell to emergencies, to answer an 18 month old call to race the high seas this week.  Peter Mulcahy, who has built a career on fast responses, has had to wait and count down the days since January 2005 after winning a Liverpool Culture Company competition to race a leg on the world's longest yacht race for free.

Now the wait is over.

The 46 year old from Childwall leaves the UK on 5 May to fulfil a dream of tackling the mighty Pacific Ocean on the 05-06 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.  And as Head of Emergency Planning and Contingency at Mersey Regional Ambulance Service NHS Trust, patient Peter has used his preparation skills to the most.  He has lost 2 and half stone in training since New Year and his fitness and freshness could be pivotal in taking Liverpool 08 to glory. And as a culture company winner, he will also be seen as a good omen. Teacher Claire Daley raced the 2 part first leg for free and enjoyed a 1st and a 2nd.

The 10-strong international fleet are scheduled to finish Leg 5 in Vancouver this week. Liverpool 08, currently 3rd in the race to Canada, is expected to close the gap on overall leaders' westernaustralia.com to just 1 point.

Peter and the Liverpool 08 crew will start the penultimate Leg 6 of the Clipper 05-06 Race from Vancouver on 17 May. The fleet are dashing down the American pacific coast to Panama and are due to arrive in Jamaica on 14 June. They will then race to New York and Jersey before finishing in Liverpool on 29 July.

Peter said:- ''It's been a long time since I won the 08 competition. I've followed the race for so long on the internet and heard all the wonderful stories from the crews I have to pinch myself that I'll soon be at the heart of it all.  'I can't wait to get on board. I've got myself into great shape. The Pacific is such a monumental test. I want to help Liverpool 08 win and see them lift the clipper cup at the end of July.''

David Dowling, a smoking cessation adviser, is the final culture company 08 clipper winner. He will take over from Peter in Jamaica for the final race back home.

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