DEFENDING York Union of Golf Clubs Open champion Mark Winterburn declared he was not planning on giving up the prestigious title without a fierce scrap.

The 40-year-old Forest Park Golf Club professional fired rounds of 71 and 68 to take the crown - 21 years after he first won the event - at Easingwold GC 12 months ago.

With this year's event staged at The Oaks, in Aughton, on Sunday (August 10), Winterburn has high hopes of putting up a strong showing on a course he confesses to love.

"I do like it," he said. "They have a pro-am there every year and I have finished second in it twice. Touchwood, I know how to shoot half decent scores round there.

"It's one of those courses that suits my eye. I feel like, if I am on my game, I can get a good score and I enjoy playing it. I always look forward to this event but, this year, I am especially looking forward to it."

The Open pits York's professionals against some of the region's best amateurs over two rounds and a star-studded entry list includes the likes of Martin Brown, Easingwold pro Alistair Grindlay and home favourite John Mellor.

Winterburn revealed he was using last year's triumph to try and drive him on to greater glories.

"It would be nice to win it this year, and not wait another 20," he added. "It's a big deal to win anything not just for yourself but more for the members and the owners of your golf club.

"It's also nice to win the competition that is effectively for the best players in York. You are pitted against the best players and to come out on top is a good feeling.

"My game is usually steady without being spectacular. If I can hole a few putts, I won't be far away. I won it last year and I feel like I can win it again. When you go 20 years in a certain competition without winning it you do wonder whether whether you will ever win it again.

"Now I know I can do it. This year, I will definitely be going in thinking that if I play to my level I certainly won't be far away."