A TOP-quality field will contest the inaugural East Lancashire Scratch Challenge Trophy this weekend, with two of the area’s most prestigious competitions joining forces for what promises to be a cracking two days of golf.

The new 72-hole competition will encompass the Wilpshire Trophy and the Pleasington Antlers and offers R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking Points as well as valuable Northern Order of Merit rankings.

Current county champion Mark Young and two-time East Lancashire champion Mark Ashworth, both from Clitheroe, head the field while country seniors champion Tony Holt and Nelson’s Curtis Clarkin – who was beaten in the final of the Harold Ryden Trophy – also take to the greens.

The action gets underway tomorrow at Wilpshire with a field of 64 teeing off. The Wilpshire Trophy will be up for grabs at the end of 36 holes while the conclusion will also act as the halfway point in the Scratch Challenge Trophy.

The action continues on Sunday with the Pleasington Antlers seeing 66 golfers take to the course, with around 25 of the starters completing the Challenge Trophy.

At the end of another 36 holes, the winner of the Antlers and the Challenge Trophy will be crowned.

Pleasington Golf Club secretary Chris Williams, who is also playing in both events himself, is hoping the tournament marks its debut year with a bang.

He said: “We have two full fields and it promises to be a really good event.

“It was joint thing between ourselves and Wilpshire and we wanted to put on a 72-hole event to ensure that there were some amateur points available.

“A lot of courses don’t want to host four rounds but we have seen joint ones elsewhere in the country and decided to have a go at our own.

“Hopefully it will be a success and will grow. We certainly want it to be a fixture on the calendar.

“We have managed to get a sponsor in and a lot of the region’s top golfers will be playing so it is a very competitive field.”

As well as the East Lancashire stars, Wigan’s Reece Cranfield and the Isle of Man’s Tom Gandy, both of whom competed in final qualifying for The Open Championship earlier this week, will be in the field as well as a host of Lancashire capped players.

The action gets underway at 7.30am on both days with the last players expected to complete their rounds at around 7pm.

Spectators are welcome on both days and the event is sponsored by Blackburn Chemicals Ltd.