Yorkshire Challenge: Amateurs get their own three-day taste of Ryder Cup action

RYDER CUP battle begins today '“ not in Hazeltine, Minnesota, but here in the White Rose county as more than 350 players take up the Yorkshire Challenge.

Defending Yorkshire Challenge champions Brian Hill and Martin Barber, of Howley Hall.

This is the fourth annual staging of this trilateral betterball pairs Stableford event, held over Yorkshire’s three Ryder Cup venues; Ganton, Moortown and Lindrick.

A series begins at each of the venues, with players competing for both daily prizes and the overall championship, which will be defended by Howley Hall pair Martin Barber and Brian Hill.

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Within a day of entry opening last December only a handful of tee-off times remained available, such is the Yorkshire Challenge’s popularity, and co-champion Barber understands why after playing in it for the first time last year.

“It is unique, the format that they are offering, and you can see why it is so popular,” said the nine-handicapper.

“I’ve only really got into the history of the game in the last three or four years, travelling around with my mates and playing some of these top courses, and to play all three of Yorkshire’s Ryder Cup venues in the same event is fantastic.”

After the first two days, the leaders go out last at each of the three courses in the manner of a PGA or European Tour event. “We played Lindrick last and it was a bit intimidating,” continued Barber.

“They sent a buggy round with a photographer and it gives you a tiny taste of the pressure that the pros are under all the time.

“It was just in a minute way, but I don’t know how the pros cope with it.”

Their 39-point first-day score at Ganton left them six points behind leaders Jamie Shepherd and Jason Pickett, of Lindrick, but on day two at Moortown, Hill and Barber gleaned 43 points to surge into the overall lead.

The pair showed admirable consistency at Lindrick to come in with 42 points for a three-day aggregate of 124 and a six-point triumph.

“You have got to be a bit lucky over three days, but we played well too,” recalled Barber. “You have to have the mentality that luck evens out.”