SAM Horsfield has one eye on a place in the US Open as he tees it up in the inaugural English Championship at Hanbury Manor.
The 23-year-old moved to the top of the UK Swing Order of Merit after his maiden European Tour win at last week’s Hero Open at the Forest of Arden.
The top 10 after the sixth and final event are set to share £250,000 to donate to charity as part of the European Tour’s Golf For Good initiative.
And there is a further incentive that has piqued the young Englishman’s interest, with the leading 10 not otherwise exempt after the fifth event set to secure placed at the US Open at Winged Foot, in September.
Horsfield, who hails from Manchester, but lives in Florida, said: “One of my goals coming in to the UK Swing was to get into the US Open.
“I played well at the British Masters, finished 10th, and then to win last week has really helped that cause.
The protege of Ian Poulter, who has championed Horsfield since the age of 13, added: “Looking forward to the next few weeks and keeping the momentum going.
“I played here a couple of weeks ago. Really liked the course and I’m looking forward to a good week.
Talking about the the Hanbury Manor Marriot Hotel and Country Club course, Sam said: “The front nine – the start is pretty nice.
“A few tricky holes on the back nine. Pretty similar to last week actually, where you’ve got to get it going early and play the back nine well.
Højgaard looking for win No. 2
DANE Rasmus Højgaard and Belgium’s Thomas Detry are also both aiming to take a step closer to their Major debuts, this week.
Currently occupying third position in the standings, 19-year-old Højgaard has already shown winning form this season.
He won a play-off at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in December, beating Italy’s Renato Paratore, the winner of the British Masters at Close House.
Højgaard said about making his US Open debut: “I would be another checked off goal. If you can call it that.
“It’s not something I’ve been thinking about. It’s just a bonus if it happens. I’m just focused on playing well and that will take care of it.
“I still dream. Winning Majors is a dream, of course. But it’s still a goal at the same time,” added the third-youngest winner in European Tour history.
“Right now, it’s more a dream than it is a goal. I have to be a lot better and develop my game – a lot more to be more consistent and over time, perform well. It’s a bit of both. But it’s definitely a goal in future.”
Detry will just keep on trying for maiden win
MEANWHILE Detry, who is just one position further back, is aiming to go one better than his second place finish at the Coventry course, on Sunday.
The Belgian won a pro-am at Worplesdon Golf Club organised by his manager Brendan Taylor last month.
Victory sharpened up his appetite for a first Tour win and a place in the UK Swing mini-order of merit top 10.
Detry said: “I think I’m lying in fourth right now. I want to secure that top 10.
“I’m not going to try and play defensively, I’m going to keep giving myself chances to win.
“Last week was an amazing week, the golf course was fantastic. I played some really good golf, Sam Horsfield just played slightly better – he deserved the win.
“My game feels great and I’m very confident for the following weeks.
“It would mean a lot,” he added when asked about playing in the US Open.
“I don’t know if there’s going to be spectators or not. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve never played a Major.
“It was a goal for me last year. Getting to one this year would be phenomenal.”
Westwood knows how to win at Hanbury Manor
ONE man who knows how to win around Hanbury Manor is 25-time European Tour champion Lee Westwood.
The Close House pro, who hosted the British Masters two weeks ago, claimed the English Open title here in 1998.
The veteran of 10 Ryder Cups will be hoping to make his experience count as the European Tour marks its return to the Hertfordshire venue for the first time this century.P
Westwood said: “I’m feeling good. I obviously played a couple of weeks ago at Close House – took last week off. And it’s nice to be back at somewhere where you’ve won round.
“It was a long time ago, I can’t remember a lot of it. But I do remember hitting a few longer clubs into some of these holes. It’s playing a little bit shorter today.”
Hanbury Manor was designed in 1990 by Jack Nicklaus II, who added a brand new front nine.
He also revised the original nine holes laid out at the former convent school and country manor house by Harry Vardon, in the early 1900s.
•For live scoring in the first round of the English Championship click here.