OPEN champion Darren Clarke performs an important duty prior to his eagerly-awaited defence of the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham and St Annes next week.
He will be guest of honour at Sunday’s opening ceremony for the World Junior Open at Fairhaven GC.
Clarke, triumphant at Sandwich 12 months ago, will hand out commemorative medals to the young golfers who have come from all corners of the world to contest the massive Fairhaven championship.
It is billed as the most truly international sporting competition outside the Olympics, with 70 countries and all the continents represented, so the ceremony should be colourful.
It begins at 6pm in front of the clubhouse on the beautiful Fairhaven course, and the Claret Jug will be on display.
The World Junior Open will be played over the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Open Championship week.
It is held every two years and competitors who have gone on to even greater things include Rory McIlroy and Paula Creamer.
The event also provides the chance of a lifetime for young players from so far afield to experience the unique demands of links golf.
Fairhaven is only half a mile from Lytham, scene of The Open, and the course was founded in 1895. Its current lay-out was designed by five-times Open champion James Braid and J A Steer.
Fairhaven is well used to hosting big events – the course record of 64 was achieved by Justin Leonard in final qualifying for the 1996 Open, the year before the American lifted the Claret Jug at Royal Troon.
Fairhaven has also hosted the Astor Trophy, girls’ international matches and the British Girls’ Open Amateur Championships.
Play at Fairhaven starts each day at 8am, with 120 golfers competing (handicaps 5-15).