Classic’s elevated status a boost for Nicholl

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THE Elland Open Classic has received a boost prior to the fourth running of the event in its new early-season slot.

The competition, which boasts an impressive prize fund of £3,150, has been awarded reserve qualifying status for the late season Champion of Champions event at Waterloo.

It means that if someone like Graeme Wilson or last year’s star performer Gary Ellis win a clutch of qualifying events, then the Elland winner may get into the Blackpool field.

Barry Nicholl, the joint organiser with Dave Greenwood, believes the competition’s elevated status reflects the hard work of people at Hullen Edge.

“We’ve never had it before and it shows that we have been running the competition successfully,” he said.

“It’s a good venue, has easy access from the M62 and the catering and the quality of the green is good,” he said.

There has been a major change this year with the competition switched from its September/October slot to spring.

The first of the eight qualifying nights is Saturday, March 31 and the next seven are on Sundays (5.0 practice, 5.30 starts) before the final on Sunday, May 20.

Entry is £20 and there are only 34 vacancies left in a 128-strong field with the line-ups for April 15 and May 13 full.

Wilson and Ellis are among the big names entered and there is a strong Welsh presence on the opening night. Halifax’s Robert Hitchen, who holds the record for Yorkshire appearances, will be playing in the second qualifier.

However, Elland club president Nicholl said there was a shortage of local players keen to have a crack at the £1,000 prize. He can be contacted on 077106 33153.