8:30pm Sunday 27th November 2011
By Tom Guest
EVESHAM pro Dan Clee and club member Mark Harrison are preparing to jet off to Las Vegas for a once-in-a-lifetime golfing experience this week.
The duo will be representing the Midlands at the annual Virgin Atlantic PGA National Pro-am Championship on December 5 and 6.
They will compete against 15 other clubs from the UK in the 36-hole final, which is being staged over the Jack Nicklaus-designed South Shore course and carries a £30,000 prize fund.
With £5,000 on offer for the winning pro, Clee is keen to do well, but insists just qualifying was special enough.
He said: “The real success was actually getting there. I have played in the regional qualifiers for years and, although I’ve had a few top-six finishes, they might as well have been last place.
“The journey started with our club qualifying competition for the members to see who would play with me in the regional qualifier.
“We used our April medal as that event and Mark, who was off 16 then, won it.
“He shot a gross 79, nett 63, which was the best round he’d ever played, so we then went to Little Aston Golf Club to play in the Midlands regional qualifier. That was one of the most popular qualifiers, as it was a full entry with 74 pairs taking part.
“We were six under through the last seven holes, with both of us contributing, which saw us win the event on count-back from two other pairs. It was a feather in the cap to finish ahead of the standard of opposition we were up against.
“We won on count-back against PGA Cup players Paul Wesselingh and Matt Morris. They were just ahead of us and I remember telling Mark what good players they were, so to end up finishing ahead of them was special.”
Since qualifying, the Evesham pair have been busy practicing together.
Clee added: “There’s a real buzz at the club with the members asking us when we’re going, so reaching the final has done a lot for the club’s profile.
“For me, it’s a case of me keeping Mark’s feet on the ground and getting him back down to earth, but he’s a bit nervous about it.
“We’ve decided to go out there a day earlier and return a day later to extend the trip. We’ll be making the most of our time out there and hopefully win some spending money in the casinos too!
“In Las Vegas, we will play two rounds of better-ball medal against 15 other pairs from across the UK with the best overall score winning the title. It is different to the pro tournaments I’ve played in as it is a bit more of a fun event — that said, it will be really competitive.
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