TREBLE winner Mark Ashworth admits it would take something special and great good fortune for him to make it a fantastic four Harold Ryden Trophy wins on the spin when the famous competition tees off tomorrow – but that won’t stop him going all out to write another page in the history books.
The 46-year-old Clitheroe member has made the competition his own since lifting the trophy in 2011 with wins in the next two years but he believes it would the tallest of orders to claim the glory again when the action gets underway at Rossendale GC.
“It’s a really tough competition and I think I have probably had my time,” he laughed. “It’s fantastic to win it three years running and a fourth would be fantastic but there are so many quality golfers in the field and you also need that bit of luck.
“The 36 holes on Saturday are a real battle to get through and it’s an achievement to make it out of those as one of the eight qualifiers but I’ll give it a good go.
“I know Rossendale pretty well as I am a member there as well as at Clitheroe and I am playing pretty well at the moment but you need more than to be playing well in this competition.
“You need luck to be on your side and I’ll admit I have had that luck over the last few years.
“There have been times when I could have lost but people have not been at their best and you need that fortune to favour you.
“Matchplay golf is sapping and after you have gone through the 36 holes on the Saturday and then played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night you don’t want to play golf for about a week afterwards – but this is a superb competition.”
Ashworth will play with his close friend Tony Flanagan, who he beat in the 2011 final, and knows that opener will be a major test in itself.
“I play with Tony a lot and he is always reminding me that I beat him three years ago so he will want to go all out and beat me on Saturday.”
Wilpshire’s Joey Lamb is a threat, while Nelson’s rising star Curtis Clarkin is also one to watch and Clarkin’s King’s Causeway team-mate David Rigby won the Harold Ryden back in 2009.
Another Nelson youngster Ben Short also tees off in the tournament and he is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his dad Ian, who won the trophy back in 2000.
But Ashworth is wary of all of the field and added: “The field is full of good golfers.
“Tony Holt has just won the Lancashire Seniors title and there is Jonathan Hurst who is another county player, while there are a few lads from Rossendale who know how to get around that course, people like Ashley Siddle, who is a good golfer and hits the ball well.
“Accrington also have some good scratch golfers out, people like Chris Nuttall, and they are all capable of going all the way.
“But whoever wins come next Wednesday night will have to play well – and they will need luck on their side.”