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             Great Britain and Ireland team celebrates after winning the 2003 Walker Cup

Walker Cup Stars Take Up The Challenge 
The European Challenge Tour welcomes two members of the victorious 2003 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team this season, with Graham Gordon and Stuart Manley looking to follow other former Walker Cup players along the well trodden path that leads to The European Tour.

Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Nick Dougherty and Graeme McDowell are the most recent additions to an illustrious group of Walker Cup players to have found fame and fortune at the top echelon of European golf – adding their names to a star studded list that includes Andrew Coltart, Bradley Dredge, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Mark James, Colin Montgomerie, Andrew Oldcorn and Justin Rose to name but a few.

Last season, the Challenge Tour provided the platform for yet another three Walker Cup heroes to step up to the top level. Jamie Elson, Richard McEvoy and Steven O’Hara all gained priceless experience on the Challenge Tour circuit in 2003 before graduating to The European Tour – Elson through the Challenge Tour Rankings and McEvoy and O’Hara through the Qualifying School. Their progress proved to both Gordon and Manley that the Challenge Tour is the best vehicle for the tough journey to the top.

“I agree with that,” said Welshman Manley – who sank the final putt to win the Walker Cup for an unprecedented third successive occasion by 15 ½ - 13 ½ at Ganton last year.

“You only have to look at the Walker Cup team from 2001 to see what can be done. After playing at Walker Cup level as amateurs, most of the 2001 team that have since turned professional have progressed and improved.

“Jamie, Richard and Steven all gained invaluable experience on the Challenge Tour last year and it seems to be the best way to gain access to The European Tour. All of those players did really well, and are now reaping the rewards that can be gained if you learn and improve.

“The Challenge Tour gives players the opportunity to do that in four round tournaments all over the world and that is what you have to get used to in professional golf.”

Manley is already growing accustomed to the rigours of the professional game. He went to South Africa and pre-qualified for the dunhill championship two weeks ago, before putting together an impressive four round score of 13 under par 275 for the tournament that saw him finish in a tie for 16th place.

Gordon has been getting ready for the curtain-raising events of the 2004 Challenge Tour season. The 2003 Scottish Amateur Champion will travel to Central America for the first three tournaments of the year, the Panama Masters 2004, the Costa Rica Open and the Telefonica Centro America Guatemala Open.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out there on the Challenge Tour – and I know Graham is too,” said Manley, the 2003 Welsh Amateur Champion. “We were room-mates at the Walker Cup and I have got to know him well. He is a great player, very steady, and I think he’ll go on to be successful as a professional.

Richard McEvoy
“Me, I want to play as many tournaments as I can, and hopefully have a good enough season to get onto The European Tour next year.”

“I’ve started the year well, and my confidence is high just now after my 16th place finish at the dunhill championship in South Africa. I played well all week there and had a final round 66 to finish strongly.

“It was great to be able to play against so many big name players in a full European Tour event. That is where I want to be playing and I think the best way to do that will be on the Challenge Tour.”

Courtesy of www.europeantour.com  

Courtesy of www.europeantour.com  

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