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Golfing young guns tee off in Ticino

The Italian-speaking canton of Ticino becomes Switzerland's golfing capital on Thursday, as more than 150 professionals gather in the lakeside resort of Ascona.

The SFr165,000 Credit Suisse Private Banking Open replaces the Interlaken Open, which folded last year following financial problems. For many competing this week, the tournament will be a stepping stone towards participation in the European PGA.

The new event has drawn a strong field, including the South African, Trevor Immelman, and Eric Carlberg of Sweden. The pair walked away with the two previous Challenge Tour events and currently lie in first and second place on the rankings.

Although the best known golfers, Paolo Quirici and André Bossert, have now moved on to the PGA, fans will have a rare opportunity to view some of the rising names of Swiss golf. They include Juan Ciola, Francisco Valera, Steve Rey, Christophe Bovet and the Englishman, Marcus Knight, who is in the process of obtaining a Swiss passport.

A number of the golfers taking part have already got PGA experience under their belt, including Sweden's Peter Hedblom (who won the Moroccan Open in 1996), Italy's Michele Reale and England's Stuart Cage.

The Golf Club Patriziale is hosting the tournament on a par 71 course regarded as one of the most attractive in Switzerland. It is situated on the shore of Lake Maggiore.

The club rented the site in 1928 for the annual rate of Sfr400. However, it only managed to complete the 18-hole course in 1957, after operating for many years with just nine.

swissinfo with agencies

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