TWO south Essex golfers are battling it out with dozens of others from around Europe in a bid to compete against the sport’s big names next year.

Rayleigh’s Westley Wray and Benfleet’s David Salisbury have both made it through the first round of the European Tour qualifying school.

And they will find out on Friday where they will play their second round matches as they target a place in the final at the end of November.

For Wray it is a second attempt at getting his European Tour card following an initial bite of the cherry in 2010.

That ended in disappointment, while a lack of sponsorship forced him to sit out most of last season.

But with financial support from businessman Danny Peters, 22-year-old Wray is hoping to make the grade this time around.

“I’m confident that I can get there this year and am drawing on the experience of playing full time this year,” said Wray, who is attached to Lord’s Golf and Country Club and Centre Golf (Rayleigh Golf Range).

“I have been able to do that thanks to Danny’s support. This year has not been the best one for me because I have had to get used to playing full time again.

“It has certainly helped playing every event and I’m fully focused on the second qualifying round.”

Wray made a fine start to the first qualifying round at the par 72 Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire. He completed his first three rounds with par scores but slipped up on the out nine in the fourth and final round.

A double bogey on the second was followed by bogeys on the third, sixth and seventh to leave the Rayleigh golfer five strokes under.

He pulled it back slightly with a birdied 14th which saw him finish with a round of 76 to leave him in joint 24th place, four under with a total of 292.

“I played solidly for the first three rounds and I was in by quite a few shots,” added Wray.

“But on the opening eight holes of the final round I had a lack of concentration and that proved costly.

“I knew I had to play well from then on.”