GOLFING stars descended on Cornwall yesterday for the opening of the Farmfoods European Legends Championship at Trevose Golf & Country Club, near Padstow.

It was essentially a practice round for the professionals, who each played with three amateurs in a four-man team competition in which the best two scores counted on each hole.

Stars on show included Paul Lawrie, 1999 winner of The Open, Jean van de Velde and tournament host Ian Woosnam, the former Ryder Cup captain and US Masters winner in 1991.

I was lucky enough to caddy for one of the amateurs whose team went on to win the Pro-Am under the able and amiable tutelage of Miguel Angel Martin, who has three European Tour wins to his name.

The 57 year-old from Madrid was small in stature, but big in class and quality. He was unerringly straight off the tee and his short game, using a long-handled putter, was immaculate.

It was a pleasure to watch how he went about his business, with his industrious caddy Eddie, who is based at Celtic Manor in Wales, writing down all sorts of information and yardages ahead of their three-day tournament which begins today.

Martin, whose economy of effort would be a lesson for any amateur golfer, was a gentleman throughout.

Still sporting lavish, age-proof hair and a typically Spanish complexion, his wit was accompanied by a flash of teeth and a glint in his eye that kept us amused for the entirety of the five-hour round.

It is a rare thing for sportsmen of such pedigree to come to Cornwall and for the winning amateurs - Truro-based Trevose members Lee Cunningham, Matt Gunn and Ben Treleaven - it was an experience that they will never forget.

After the round there was a spectacular gala dinner compered by former Olympic athlete Derek Redmond, who hosted a question and answer session with Lawrie and van de Velde.

Former South African cricketer Shaun Pollock, who has an excellent handicap of 1, was also called on stage to orchestrate a game of heads and tails to determine the lucky winner of a golfing break.

Today's Staysure Tour event sees the professionals start their competition proper, but they will still be partnered by amateurs until the final day on Sunday, when the legends will have the course all to themselves.

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