Yorkshire golf: Huddersfield GC's Nick Marsh hopes to straddle both Challenge and EuroPro Tours

Huddersfield GC's former English men's amateur champion Nick Marsh (Picture: Chris Stratford).
Huddersfield GC's former English men's amateur champion Nick Marsh (Picture: Chris Stratford).

NICK MARSH'S first thoughts after winning the HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School First Stage at Mottram Hall were, paradoxically, of a play-off.

For the former English men's amateur champion was as keen for his two Huddersfield GC club-mates, Adam Walker and Aron Schnacke, to progress as he was himself.

Walker had played alongside Marsh over two days and the pair knew they had qualified for next week's Final Stage at Frilford Heath, in Oxfordshire.

But Schnacke was on the cut mark and had to emerge from a nine-man play-off to claim a spot.

"Aron was in a play-off, I think there were nine of them for eight spots, and Aron made five at the first and one guy made a six and was obviously out," said Marsh.

"We were a bit nervous because obviously we wanted all three of us to get through.

"It was nice for all three of us to qualify because we have all booked the same accommodation to stay in next week. We were hoping we would all get through so it was nice to make that a reality."

The England international had taken first place, and a £300 winner's cheque, after consecutive rounds of three-under-par 69 while Walker shot 75 72 and Schnacke 73 76.

"It is always nice to shoot two consecutive rounds in the 60s," Marsh continued. "Obviously the main goal was just to qualify, so to shoot two 69s and win was a bonus for me."

He had lain second overnight after the first round, and - starting his second round at the 10th - had dropped two shots with the inward half of the course to play.

"Over the two days I played the front nine in nine under and the back nine in three over," he reflected.

"When I was two over after my first nine in round two I knew I had a couple of chances coming in to make a couple of birdies. Starting eagle-birdie set me rolling again, which was good.

"The front nine is quite open and you can open your shoulders a bit on a couple of the tee-shots, then on the back nine, which is tougher, you have to place it in specific areas off the tee.

"There are a couple of tough stretches - 11, 12 and 13 and then 16 and 17 are probably the toughest.

"Seventeen was a monster on Thursday. We played it into the wind and it is a quirky hole, a dogleg across a valley. You have to position your tee-shot in a corner of the fairway with something like a two-iron and then you have a two- or three-iron left. It is one of those holes where you will take four and just run to the next tee."

Marsh tied 29th in the penultimate stage of the European Tour's Qualifying School last November, which means he will be able to compete in some events on the Challenge Tour this summer.

He hopes to earn a high category EuroPro Tour card next week so that he can play a combination of second- and third-tier tournament events in his first full season as a professional.

"Hopefully, if I get my card next week, I will try to play as much as I can," he said. "I might try to play three or four tournaments on the spin and then maybe take a week off.

"It all depends on next week and what category of card I can get on the EuroPro as to where my focus will be.

"I would like to get a good mixture of playing on both tours as the key is just playing competitive golf to keep the competitive spirit going.

"I must also be wary of not overplaying, not wearing myself out, so I hope to just play a decent amount and see how I go."

He is well aware of the standards required at EuroPro level and is not taking anything for granted.

"If I can win my card, I'll be playing on the EuroPro Tour knowing I'll need to shoot seven, eight, nine under par over three rounds to maybe only finish in the top five," he acknowledged.

"Next week should be equally as much fun if not more fun as all three of us try for our card."

In all, 240 competitors will play one round on each of the Red and Blue Courses next Wednesday and Thursday before a cut to the leading 80 players and ties.

They will play a concluding 18 holes on the Blue Course next Friday, with entrants competing to earn the highest possible category on the 2016 HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour.

All those progressing to Final Stage have earned at least a category 14, with golfers making the Final Stage cut earning a minimum category 10 and the top 30 earning category 3.

Adam Walker and Aron Schnacke on playing for EuroPro Tour cards