Ian Ellis calm ahead of Norfolk Open Championship defence

Ian Ellis in action. Picture: Keith Whitmore.

Ian Ellis in action. Picture: Keith Whitmore. - Credit: Archant

Professional Ian Ellis insists he is not feeling under pressure as he prepares to defend his Norfolk Open Championship title.

The Costessey Park player won by five shots last year and is being tipped to retain his crown at Barnham Broom on Thursday. However, the reigning champion admits he is not concerned by the weight of expectancy placed upon his shoulders from others. The 40-year-old said: 'It makes no difference to me. The only expectations I have I put on myself. I'm not bothered about other expectations that people have of me.

'I've had a practice round at Barnham and the course is playing well. If I can go out and put a decent amount of shots together then I should be contending. That's all I want to do. I just want to go out, shoot some good scores, and if that's good enough then so be it.'

Ellis could hardly have made a more impressive start to the last showpiece event at Royal West Norfolk, opening up with a seven under par round of 64. There was no repeat of the birdie blitz after lunch, but Ellis was a model of consistency as he went round in 70 to clinch a second Open title.

Having won the East Region Head Professionals' Championship at Broxbourne in June, the pro believes he goes into next week's event with even more confidence than he did last time out.

'I've played pretty well all summer and I've had quite a number of six unders,' said the pre-event favourite.

'My form is better than this time last year, but most importantly so is my confidence. It's a lot higher than it was last year. Golf is all about what goes on between the ears. I know what I can do and hopefully I can put myself in among the top pack.'

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The holder of the prestigious competition – which pits the county's top professional and amateur players against each other across 36 holes – expects 2012 runners-up Lee Patterson (Royal Cromer pro) and Mike Few (Weston Park pro) to be among those pushing him hard.

'One bad shot on the first hole, or a three-putt on the second is all it takes for you to start thinking you don't know what the hell is going on,' said Ellis.

'But through experience and playing more, hopefully I've learned to deal with that if I get off to a bad start. I'd say there's any one of maybe four pros and half a dozen amateurs who feel they can go out there and win it if they produce a good round. The standard is going to be high.'

The first group of players – who will complete two rounds on the day – are set to tee off at 8am.