Waring Can Join Exclusive Club

Paul Waring has the chance to join an exclusive club when he defends the England Amateur Championship beginning at Burnham and Berrow Golf Club in Somerset on July 31.

Only six players in the 81-year history of the event have successfully defended the title, so Waring has the opportunity of writing his name alongside some distinguished names on the Roll of Honour.

Waring, who became champion by beating Cheshire County teammate Steven Capper over his home at Bromborough a year ago, begins his quest for a second crown against Lancashire's Curtis Dean at 3 p.m. on the opening day.

Several champions have made early exits in recent times and Waring will need to avoid this particular banana skin if he is to line up alongside that exclusive six.

T. Froes Ellison, winner of the first two English titles in 1925 and '26, was the first double winner, followed in 1937 and '38 by Frank Pennink. But it wasn't until well after World War II that the feat was performed again by Michael Bonallack. In fact, the great international, now Sir Michael, did the double twice in his heyday, in 1962 and '63 and again in 1967 and '68.

Harry Ashby won consecutively in 1972 and '73 and, more recently, Mark Foster (1994 and '95) and Paul Casey (1999 and 2000), now both successful pros on the European Tour.

Double winners have not been so frequent in recent times because English champions have inevitably joined the paid ranks soon after their success. So there is the chance of another double champion if Waring can repel the challengers.

Waring is one of 16 seeded players. Among others playing opening day are Ross McGowan, Gary Wolstenholme, Jamie Moul and Robert Dinwiddie.

McGowan, still seeking that elusive victory after four runner-up spots this year, faces his Surrey teammate Ryan Harrison, while Wolstenholme, never the English champion, has a tricky match against Kent's James Smith, a member of the Englandís under-21 squad.

Moul, from Suffolk, the Lytham Trophy winner and a semifinalist in the Amateur Championship, will also need to be on top form against Lagonda Trophy winner Mark Thistleton from Hampshire, while Brabazon Trophy winner Dinwiddie from Durham meets 2005 under-16 champion Adam Myers from Northamptonshire.

This will be the sixth time Burnham and Berrow has hosted the English Amateur. The first was in 1930 and the last in 1981, when David Blakeman was champion, while Sir Michael Bonallack won the second of his five titles at Burnham in 1963.

The championship starts at 7 a.m. on July 31 and culminates with the 36-hole final on Saturday, August 5.