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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Gary Lockerbie's out to prove he can cut it on European tour

Gary Lockerbie is determined to prove he can cut it with the superstars on the European Tour.

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Ace of clubs: Tour professional Gary Lockerbie presents a replica Claret Jug trophy to ten-year-old Mathew Lowes, overall winner of The Little Chippers Challenge, held at Penrith Golf Centre. Sponsor Phil Gilford, owner of The Little Chippy in Penrith, is pictured front right. Back: Cumbria coaches Paul Jenkinson and Andrew Pickering, with the other competitors

The Penrith golfer secured a dream return to Europe’s top tour alongside the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter after winning his first professional tournament.

Lockerbie’s two-shot victory at the Kazakhstan Open – the most lucrative event on the Challenge Tour – propelled him to the top of the order of merit and sealed his return to the European Tour, having lost his privileges last year.

After a closing round of 70 at Nurtau Golf Club in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for a 15-under-par aggregate total of 273, the 25-year-old former county star collected a £55,000 winner’s cheque.

With the luxury of a three-shot cushion coming down the last, Lockerbie could even afford a final hole bogey which did little to dampen his delight.

Lockerbie, who finished second in the Qingdao Open in China the previous week, has concentrated on the Challenge Tour this year after one season on the European Tour which gave him a tough introduction to the showcase of golf this side of the Atlantic.

He secured two top 10 finishes last year in the South African Airways Open and the Maybank Malaysian Open but lost his full privileges – and is now determined to show he can mix it with the best on the European Tour.

Lockerbie, who is coached by Paul Jenkinson, said: “I never worried about being a one-season wonder because I knew I would get back there.

“I’m guaranteed a top 10 place in the Challenge Tour order of merit so that means I’ll get into every European Tour event I want to be in next season.

“Getting back on the European Tour means everything as it’s all I’ve ever wanted. The first aim next year has to be keeping my card and, as long as I’ve learned something from last year, I’ll be fine.”

Lockerbie’s maiden professional title means he now has a season’s winnings of £102,000 and tops the order of merit.

He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled. It was a bit greedy of me to win the biggest cheque of the year, but I’m certainly not complaining!”

It costs £1,000-a-week to play on the Challenge Tour but Lockerbie has been boosted by a sponsorship deal from businessman Ges Ratcliffe, the owner of Penrith FC.

Two of Ratcliffe’s businesses, GBCarLoans.com and moneyselecta.com, are backing Lockerbie.

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