WORLD-CLASS golf graced Malton & Norton Golf Club as it welcomed back its most successful son.

Simon Dyson, the current world number 74, returned to his roots when he played in a special exhibition match as one of the major highlights of the club’s centenary year celebrations.

A crowd of close on 500 attended throughout the day of the match, in which Dyson – a four-time title winner on the European Tour – was paired with Malton & Norton club champion Elliot Burdett against club head professional Michael Brooks and assistant pro Fraser Kelley.

The European Tour schedule could have seen Dyson opting for the BMW Open in Germany and the attendant Ryder Cup points, as well as lucrative cash prizes.

But while the 32-year-old Dyson still lies in eighth position in the current rankings for Ryder Cup team selection to play the USA in Celtic Manor in October, he remained committed to going back to the club where he first learned how to wield a club at the age of nine.

Dyson told The Gazette & Herald: “I was never not going to come back for the challenge match.

“This is where it all started for me. This is my home club and it always will be.

“Everybody always makes you welcome here at Malton and I’ve always had a lot of support from club members.

“So it’s good to be back to see so many friendly faces.”

Dyson’s appearance was welcomed by all of the club officials, with club president Frank McKendry saluting the reigning Alfred Dunhill Links Championship title-holder for honouring his pledge.

“When you think he could have been playing elsewhere, it’s a terrific commitment from him to help the club’s centenary celebrations,” said McKendry.

“He came along to support the club when we opened our new driving range and he has come back for the club’s centenary. It’s terrific.”

Club captain Vic Thornton added: “It’s a great honour for the club to have Simon come back here for our special event.

“When you think of all that he has achieved, it’s an amazing boost for our club like ours.”

Long-standing club member Maurice Wade was the club’s junior organiser when a young Dyson, barely taller than the golf bag he carried, came to the club to learn to play.

“He was a great asset to the junior team. He was always the one whose name you would put up first because of his skill and his attitude,” said Wade.

Malton & Norton GC’s lady captain Ann Triffitt said there had been a buzz of anticipation for several months at the expected appearance of a player, who at the start of the year surged into the top 50 golfers in the world, and has already figured in the two majors of the season so far – the Masters at Augusta and the US Open in Pebble Beach.

Indeed, his last outing before teeing off at Malton & Norton’s scenic first hole was in California at the feted Pebble Beach circuit.

Said Triffitt: “This is a real solid members’ club and the membership have always looked with great interest as to how Simon is doing. It’s so good to see him back here again.”