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YouTube ace puts himself in the picture

YOUTube sensation Rick Shiels qualified for the Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship final at his first attempt.

And the Manchester PGA pro is recreating his round online after finishing joint second at Delamere Forest behind a six-way tie for the top of the leaderboard.

Shiels is a new breed of golfer who has built up a huge following on his own internet channel which offers coaching tips and his story of trying to qualify for this year’s Open,

But for now the Golf Monthly top 25 coach will join 13 other qualifiers at the £78,000 showpiece final being held The Oxfordshire course between July 26-29.

Curtis Dean (Blackpool North Shore), Craig Corrigan  (Chilli Dip Golf Academy), Simon Robinson (Sharpley), Simon Lucas  (Ashton Golf Centre), Graham Cox (Lymm), Philip Waugh  (Brampton) and Barry Taylor  (Clarkes Golf Centre) all shared the top of the leaderboard after carding one under par rounds of 71 at the Cheshire venue.

But Shiels was one shot back as part of another group of six who finished on level part after an incredibly tight contest.

And the Lytham-based Quest Golf Studio player will give his 111,000 subscribers a blow by blow account of his day.

“The YouTube channel is a full time job for me now,” he said.

“I spend four to five days on it a week and create maybe seven or 10 videos. I’m getting 2.6million views a month from all over the world. But I’ve been doing it for three years now and I’ve been persistent and got in before other pros who are now trying the same thing.

“But I’ve teamed up with another professional Peter Finch who has a YouTube channel of his own and I suggested to him that I make a story out of trying to make it to The Open.

“Qualifying at Delamere Forest though is another story. I’ll put it up on my channel as ‘I’ve Qualified’ and people might think I’m at The Open. But that’s to come. Ironically, if I don’t make it, then it won’t be too bad as often the worse I play, the better the video it makes. It doesn’t matter if I shoot 65 or 95.

“It’s something that’s growing all the time, I’m getting 7-10,000 new subscribers a month, it’s giving media a whole new twist.”

Shiels admits that he could have won the qualifying event as the scores were so close.

“I’ve never taken part in qualifying before, I did it at assistants level just to have a swipe but this’ll be my first final,” he added.

“I got a triple bogey at the ninth which could have set me back a long way but I turned it around on the back nine.”

Pictured is Rick Shiels in action. Photo by Richard Martin-Roberts (Getty Images)