Tour player Damien McGrane will have to watch out for a new rival in the family - his teenage brother Mícheál.

While big brother Damien prepares to combine next week's Wales Open at Celtic Manor with a lightning trip to Wexford for the PGA Pro-AM, 16 year old Mícheál will be going through his paces with BUTCH HARMON - the world’s leading golf coach.

A promising five handicapper at Headfort Golf Club near Kells in Co Meath, Mícheál has been chosen to join Harmon and 19 other future stars at the Red Bull Masterclass at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links on Tuesday.

Damien said: "Mícheál got recommended and is looking forward to it. He is a player of the future, possibly.

"He's a five handicapper but he's playing at Headfort where there are two very good courses so he's a very good five, I would say.

"Who knows what the future will hold but he's crazy about golf and he will be a good player."

Wexford professional Damien McGrane is the only club pro playing full-time on the European Tour.

But his bother Mícheál has been bitten by the bug and wants to follow in his footsteps and head for the professional ranks after completing a college education in the US.

He said: "I'd definitely love to turn pro and maybe have a go at the Tour School. But first I have to do the SATs in September and try to get into the University of Arizona on a golf scholarship.

"Before that I'd like to get on the Leinster Boys panel and if I can get a few top tens I might be able to achieve that.

"I shot a one under gross on the new course at Headfort and my handicap was cut to 4.8 recently. Brendan McGovern, the club pro,  and Liam Bowler nominated me for the Butch Harmon course and it was actually Liam's recommendation that got me in.

"Damien is an inspiration to me and I'd love to be able to do what he does. I know it takes a lot of hard work and we'll see what happens over the next year or so."

If young McGrane impresses Harmon at Portmarnock Links he could win at trip to Texas for a week's free tuition.

Harmon and his three brothers, Dick, Bill and Craig, are hosting a day-long summit for Ireland’s 20 best young players.

At the end of the day Butch will choose two youngsters, one boy and one girl, for a week’s free tuition in Houston.

That would suit, who has already experienced of life on tour after toting the bag for his big brother in several Challenge Tour events.

He explained: "I went to Hamburg with him a few times and caddied for him there and in the North West of Ireland Open and I try to learn as much as I can.

"For the moment though I have 5th Year exams before I can play a lot of golf. I have Junior Cup this weekend and then it's Butch Harmon on Tuesday and all the Boys events after that."

He certainly has the talent to go far and he raised eyebrows at Headfort on his way to third place in the Captain's Prize last year.

If he has as much dedication as his big brother, he has all the ingredients needed to become a successful professional.

Tour pro Damien is so dedicated to his 'day job' at Wexford Golf Club that he will crisscross the Irish Sea from the Celtic Manor Wales Open to play in the annual PGA Pro-Am on Wednesday

Damien explained: "I'll get in my practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday and then I'll come back home for the Pro-Am and then go back to Wales.

"Being attached to Wexford I'd like to do that it. But is only the fact that the European Tour is in Wales that makes it possible for me to do it. If it was anywhere further afield I wouldn't be a able to do it.

"I live about 15 minutes from the Rosslare - Fishguard ferry. It is only an hour and a half for the crossing and then another hour or so to the golf club, so it will be no hassle."

As for his brother's exploit on the golf course, he reckons that time is on his side.

"There is still plenty of time for Míchéal. When I was a playing at Boys level, Padraig Harrington was the man to beat.

"Fortunately I beat him in the final of the Boys Close in 1988 but it is not about what you do at 15 or 16 years of age. It is what you go when you are 25 or 30 and Míchéal still has plenty of time."

Watch this space for future progress reports.

Rice takes step up

Tiger Tim Rice has taken a massive step towards winning a European Challenge Tour card.

The Limerick man's play-off win in the Casinos Algarve Quinta da Ria Masters on the Europro Tour has catapulted into second place on the money list.

Rice, who turns 27 on June 3, took the £12,000 winners’ cheque after edging out Lee Slattery by a single shot at the second extra hole.

He said: “It’s a great feeling to win. It was close all the way but I had been playing well and I’m delighted to have come out on top.

“Hopefully this result will stand me in good stead for the rest of the season.”

At the end of the year, the top four players on the Europro Tour Order of Merit will gain their tour cards for the 2004 Challenge  Tour.

Junior looking for inspiration

Christy O'Connor Jnr is praying for some inspiration on the greens before next week's €330,000 AIB Irish Seniors Open at Adare Manor.

The Ryder Cup veteran - who has played just a handful of tournaments this season - has been going through hell with the putter.

And after rounds of 82 and 79 in this week's Quinn Direct PGA Charity Trophy at Slieve Russell, O'Connor is running out of patience.

He groaned: "I must have had 11 three-putts in two rounds and I don't think I had one single putt in the last round.

"It's so frustrating but I will be working hard on it before the AIB Irish Seniors at Adare Manor. It will be a wonderful event and I want to play well."

Ronan Flood takes over Harrington’s bag

Padraig Harrington's new caddie, Ronan Flood, is no slouch as a golfer.

One handicapper Flood shot third and fourth rounds of 65 and 75 to finish six shots outside a play-off in the Midland Scratch Cup in Carlow last Sunday.

Flood, 27, has replaced Dave McNeilly on the bag and will make his debut in the Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus' Muirfield Village course next week.

Rafferty hits the road

Former European number one Ronan Rafferty will be playing golf this Sunday - but not in the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Ulster ace Rafferty is taking part in the inaugural Ladbrokes Shoreditch Urban Open tournament, where 64 enthusiasts work their way round the streets off buildings and through car parks using a specially-designed leather golf ball and fire hydrant covers for the holes.

Shoreditch Council have been involved in the building of the course and will be shutting the surrounding streets on the day of the tournament.

Fourteen Irishmen will tee it up in the (British) Amateur Championship at St Andrews on Monday.

England's Gary Wolstenholme will be attempting to become the first players to successfully defend the title since Peter McEvoy did it in 1978.

But the likes of Portmarnock's Noel Fox, North West Brian McElhinney and Irish Close champion Mark O'Sullivan will be keen to go far.

The players play one round on both the Old and Jubilee courses on Monday and   Tuesday with the 64 lowest scores and ties competing in the matchplay stages from Wednesday.

Darren Crowe, Aaron O'Callaghan, Stephen McVey, Gareth Maybin, Dessie Morgan, Mervyn Owens, Richard Kilpatrick, Johnny Foster, Mark Campbell, Michael McGeady and Mark Shanahan make up the rest of the Irish challenge.