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Furey reaches a milestone

By David Birtill

GED Furey has much to reflect on as he celebrated his 55th birthday and 30 years as PGA head professional at Pleasington Golf Club.

For his tenure at one of the England’s top parkland courses has been split into two contrasting halves.

The first portrays him as burgeoning tournament professional and one of the most consistent winners in the region who enjoyed a brief spell on the European Tour.

The next is a completely different story – and a tragic one at that.

For as the new century was ushered in, Manchester-born Furey’s world was about to change dramatically.

“I developed a limp and thought it was a back problem,” he recalled. “A growth was discovered on my spinal cord and I was treated with radiotherapy to prevent the condition from spreading. But the treatment damaged a nerve and that signalled the end of my tournament career.”

Since then, with the aid of a buggy, he has been restricted to playing with the captain in club matches.

It’s all a far cry from of his glory years when he twice won the PGA North Region Championship and Leeds Cup, five Lancashire Open titles, which remains a record, and a plethora of other successes.

Nationally, Furey played in the 40th staging of the PGA Cup at the Belfry in 1988 under the captaincy of David Huish, and the Open Championship at Royal Lytham the same summer.

He won the Volvo Pro-Captain Challenge with clubmate Brian Marsden at Wentworth in 1993 and three years later the Lombard Trophy, the PGA National Pro-Am, with amateur Geoff Wilson, at San Lorenzo in Portugal.

And last season, the former PGA North and PGA in Lancs captain could not resist competing when his club hosted the qualifier for the latter and finished a creditable third with amateur partner Mike Sears.

Furey won the Tobago Invitation after gaining his European Tour card and played with Sam Torrance in the Jersey Open after lying second over three rounds.

But his experience at the higher level was all too short.

He occasionally ponders on what he might have achieved but with commendable honesty he said: “I was up there with the best but you can never look back. I would not have changed my career and I am happy as pro at a great club. I enjoy coaching, especially the Lancashire Under-14 squad.”

Furey’s interest in the game was nurtured at Heaton Park Golf Club, near his Blackley birthplace. He was appointed assistant at Manchester Golf Club then joined Clive Burgess as assistant at Ludlow, returning there as full pro after a spell at Fleetwood.