A GREENOCK man has become one of the top footgolf players in the UK and has now teed up the chance to compete at the world cup in Japan.

Michael Eardley is ranked number four in Scotland and is in the top 20 competitors in Britain after just one season playing the increasingly popular game, which combines football and golf.

The 34-year-old is now targeting a place at the world cup in September following an impressive debut campaign.

Footgolf involves a typical 18-hole round of golf but with players kicking a football around the course and into adapted holes on the green.

Married dad-of-two Michael got involved by chance thanks to fellow Greenock player Daniel Mains, who competes on the Scottish 'Tartan Tour', and instantly caught the bug.

He quit playing football for local side Belleaire to concentrate on his new sporting passion and, after a single season as an amateur, he is now playing professionally.

Michael, who lives in the Strone, said: "I played football with Danny and he phoned me up to ask me to play footgolf because they were short of players and I've been playing ever since. "It's a really enjoyable sport and you get a good buzz out of it.

"It's been great so far and I've played all over the the UK. "I represented my country last year in tri-nations events against England, Wales and Ireland and it was a great honour.

"The aim is now Japan and to make the world cup squad and represent Scotland again."

Michael, an HGV mechanic for Inverclyde Council, is now ranked 17 in the UK and climbing.

His footgolf adventure so far has seen him play at famous courses around Britain, such as Celtic Manor in Wales, and he has events coming up in Ireland and France as he targets a world cup spot.

The Greenock man plays individually and with pairs partner Stuart Campbell, who is from Paisley, and has also coached the UK team.

His world cup bid has received the backing of Greenock-based McGill's Buses and Jay's Street Food in Pottery Street, Gourock company Ecosse Joinery and MLS Solvency in Glasgow - but he needs some more sponsors to help him reach his Japan fundraising target.

Michael said: "I'm currently sixteenth in the qualifying and you need to be in the top ten but I've played less events than everyone else just because the way things have worked out. "In the four events I have played in, I've had top ten finishes.

"One of my best mates, Ben Clarke, is world number one in footgolf just now and he's been telling me to just keep doing what I'm doing and I'll be in the Scotland squad and in the UK squad with him too."

*To sponsor Michael, email him at micke0112@googlemail.com