Teenager Jonathan Bell will make his European Tour debut at the Madeira Islands Open – BPI Portugal this week after impressing Sir Nick Faldo at the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final last October.
The 18 year old English amateur international won the title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finishing one shot ahead of 2009 British Boys’ champion Tom Lewis, and as a reward has been given a place in the field at Porto Santo Golfe.
Bell has recently returned from China, where he finished 24th in the 2010 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final over the Faldo Course at Mission Hills Golf Club.
“I’m just going to try and enjoy this week really and gain as much as I can from the experience,” he said. “I’m not feeling nervous, just really excited and I can’t wait to get out there and start. Obviously the aim is to win it. That would be amazing and would open a lot of doors for me.
“I’m playing full-time now as an amateur but if I won this week I’d turn professional straight away. The aim is to get my European Tour card in the next couple of years and hopefully I can do that. I’m in the England A squad at the moment and enjoying it.
“I know a few of the English lads out here and the first two rounds I’m playing with Luke Goddard who is a friend of mine so that will help. I’m just taking it all in and enjoying every minute.”
Six-time Major Champion Sir Nick Faldo said: “I am sure Jonathan will have a great time playing alongside the Tour pros at the Madeira Islands Open.
“I set up the Faldo Series back in 1996 to nurture a new generation of young talent and there is no better way to learn than to compete alongside some of the best players in the game.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paulo Sousa and the Tournament Committee for giving Jonathan a place in the field in Madeira. It is much appreciated and will be hugely beneficial to Jonathan as he looks to build on the success he has achieved to date.”
Paulo Sousa said: “We were delighted to offer Jonathan a place in the field. His performance in the 2009 Faldo Series Europe Grand Final illustrates he is a fine player and will not be out of place in our top class field.”
Bell won the 2004 English Boys’ Under-14 Championship at the age of 12 and went on to win both the Sir Henry Cotton Junior Masters and the South East Junior Championship in 2008. He is now a regular in the English Boys’ side which won last year’s Boys’ Home Internationals.
“Winning the Grand Final of the Faldo Series opened a lot of doors for me and it’s something I will always be grateful for,” added Bell.
Sir Nick Faldo created the Faldo Series in 1996 to develop new generations of young talent and its former graduates include Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who won the Under-15 and Under-17s titles in 2004 and 2006 respectively, World Cup winner Marc Warren of Scotland, English European Tour stars Nick Dougherty and Oliver Fisher, LPGA Major winner Yani Tseng and rising Ladies’ European Tour player Melissa Reid.