IT IS about time Lee Thompson won The Players Championship at Cumberwell Park next week after so many near misses, writes PETER GODSIFF.

The 46-year-old Dudsbury touring professional from Bournemouth, has been close in each of the seven years since the event started. After three fourth spots, he was third for the following two years and runner-up to Mark Searle (High Post) last year.

But another form player Paul Hendriksen (Ivybridge) is also a course specialist.

The PGA Cup player and 2015 PGA champion is invariably the man to watch each time he appears.

He has finished in the top 10 in all but one of his 13 pro-am appearances this summer and won three times, including his last two events at Remedy Oak and Bowood.

Although the field of 110 includes many of the leading PGA professionals in Wales and the West will tee up over the red and yellow courses at the 45-hole complex near Bradford on Avon, several notables are absent.

John Bickerton, winner of the Total Triumph at Oake Manor, Richard O’Hanlon, Richard Dinsdale, Adam Frayne and Jon Bevan are not available.

But Order of Merit winner Ashley Mansell (Clevedon), who has also been playing on satellite tours, former European Tour winner David Dixon (Enmore Park), who won the event three years ago, former PGA champion Scott Drummond from Plymouth, Ross Langdon (Brickhampton Court), Sion Bebb (Morlais Castle), Toby Hunt (St Mellons) and Michael Watson (Wessex Golf Centre) are formidable contenders.

Last year Lee Corfield caddied at the event. This year, having become signed up at Burnham and Berrow, he has made his mark in PGA events. He won the PGA Assistants title at Farleigh recently so is another player to watch.

There are several new assistants making their debuts from all over the region. Matthew Moseley is coming from Tenby, James Scott from Tidworth Garrison, and Josh Salmon, from Royal North Devon.

Local newcomers include Liam Snook (Kingsdown) and home pair Luke Ayrton and Alex Jacobs, son of the club’s director of golf John Jacobs.

Jamie Amor is another assistant working with his father Simon Amor at Marlborough.

The 36-hole tournament starts next Tuesday (July 31) and regional manager Robert Moss said: “Cumberwell Park is a welcoming venue of the highest quality and all our players love competing there. We expect the standard to be really high once again.”

Bath Rugby Club president Danny Sacco, the managing director of Lansdown Mazda, sponsors both the main event and the sell-out pro-am on Monday.