EALING golfers Mike Rowley and Sandra Shield are celebrating after winning their place in the grand final of one of Europe's biggest amateur competitions - at a luxury five-star resort in Egypt.
Two-handicapper Mike Rowley, and Sandra Shield, who plays off three, produced a series of impressive performances to see off competition from more than 2,300 other golfers in the prestigious Matchplay Championship. Now they are looking forward to competing for the title of Matchplay champions in the 54-hole grand final, at the luxurious Marriott Taba Heights Beach Resort in Egypt.
The pair, who play at Fulwell Golf Club near Slough, will now head off for a week-long, expenses-paid trip to the world-renowned resort to play against other regional qualifiers from across the UK and Ireland, from May 9-16.
They entered the championship last year and qualified for the grand final after a tense regional final at Marriott St Pierre, Chepstow. Their combined score of 41 stableford points secured the top qualifying spot in the mixed event.
The Matchplay Championship, which costs just £20 per person to enter, is one of Europe's biggest amateur competitions with more than 1,150 teams from the UK & Ireland competing. And this year they faced the added thrill of playing before the TV cameras of Sky Sports, which will also be covering the grand final on the Sinai Peninsula on the Red Sea coast.
Shield admitted her pairing had a little 'local knowledge' on which to fall back at Chepstow.
"I hadn't played St Pierre before but Mike played there about a month earlier on a stag weekend, so we had a little bit of prior knowledge," she said.
"There was some added pressure on the day because of the presence of the cameras. It was a completely new experience for me but they're all really nice people and put you at your ease.
"I didn't expect us to qualify, so I'm actually really excited about the trip to Egypt. We have played golf in Egypt before but not at the Taba Heights resort. I know the scenery is very beautiful there."
John Woosey, managing director of The Golfer's Club, which promotes the Matchplay Championship, said: "Mike and Sandra have done extremely well to get to the grand final because more than 2,300 golfers entered the tournament.
"I wish them all the best and I'm sure that, whatever the result, they will enjoy playing golf and relaxing in the luxurious surroundings of Taba Heights in May."
In total, 16 teams from across the UK and Ireland will be competing in Egypt - eight mixed pairs and eight men's pairs.