Reigning champion Anthony Stirling will start as one of the favourites to claim the Bolton Golf Championship which kicks off on Saturday at Hart Common Golf Club.

More than 70 of Bolton’s top golfers will begin their campaign to win title as the Westhoughton club hosts the event for the first time since the joining the Bolton Golf Association. 

The competition to be crowned Bolton’s best golfer has been staged annually since 1913 and runs over the next few days before the final takes place on Thursday.

The qualifying 36 holes will be played at Hart Common tomorrow with the eight best scores going forward to the quarter-final on Tuesday which will be followed by the semi-finals on Wednesday with the final 24 hours later. 

Liam Ball, who lost in last year’s final to Stirling, and 2016 winner Danny Hunt are also expected to be in contention. A number of other previous champions are in the running including 1995, 1997 and 2009 winner Tim Philbin (Hindley Hall), 2001 winner Andy Runciman (Deane) and 2004 winner Steve Bryan (Old Links), 

Hart Common captain Paul Rushby, said: “We are proud to be hosts to the BGA Championship 2019 and I am particularly pleased that the event has fallen in my term of office. 

“The event is one of Bolton’s biggest sporting traditions and remains one of the high points on the town’s sporting calendar. 

Championship chairman Clive Hastie said: “The magic of the BGA Championship still has great appeal for all our top golfers. 

“This year at Hart Common it will be a great test for all the players.”

Originally called ‘Bolton’s Best Golfer’, George Bell won six championships from 1922 to 1928 to claim the Challenge Bowl Trophy which was donated by Prestons the Jewellers with the event organised by Fred Marshall from Bolton Golf Club.