Inspired by the record equalling Ryder Cup Team that he Vice-Captained at The K Club last year, Peter Baker is hoping to recapture the form that made him a Ryder Cup player in 1993 on the European Challenge Tour, starting at this week’s Oceanico Developments Pro-Am Challenge.
Baker has shown glimpses of the form that made him one of English golf’s most exciting talents in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he won three times on The European Tour and played in The 1993 Ryder Cup.
It was that same year that the 39 year old Englishman achieved his best finish of seventh on the Order of Merit. Baker kept played on The European Tour for 15 consecutive seasons between 1987 and 2001.
By his own admission, Baker then lost his desire after 20 years in the game but he was reinvigorated by his experiences at The 2006 Ryder Cup, where he played a vital role alongside Sandy Lyle and Des Smyth as Captain Ian Woosnam’s back-room team.
“I think The Ryder Cup had a lot to do with my new lease of life, but I have to be honest and say that think I was just totally burnt out,” said Baker. “I have been doing this for 20 years and for the last few years I have been struggling.
“I haven’t had my full European Tour card for the last few years, but the last two seasons that I did have it I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Everyone knows that if you don’t enjoy it then you are not going to do a great job, so the time I had off with The Ryder Cup and watching it all and being so close to it was definitely inspirational.
“Then I had the winter off and didn’t do a great deal, just thinking it over and doing things on my own has allowed me to wipe the slate clean and start again. I am hoping that this can be Chapter Two of my golf career.”
Chapter Two will continue at the Marriot Worsley Park Golf and Country Club this week, where Baker will join the cream of the current Challenge Tour generation at the Oceanico Developments Pro-Am Challenge.
Eight of the ten Challenge Tour winners of the 2007 season will be in Manchester, namely Ben Mason, Jamie Donaldson, Michael Hoey, Joost Luiten, Edoardo Molinari, Miguel Rodriguez, Nicolas Vanhootegem and Fabrizio Zanotti.
“I am going to play a lot on the Challenge Tour this year and I am determined to get my card back for The European Tour that way,” said Baker. “That is my goal at the moment and anything on top of that is a bonus.
“I just think that I have a few good years left in me. I believe that I can get the game going again and that I can get the right attitude again. I have certainly had a lot more desire, or a burn as I call it, to get back out there again. I have just wiped the slate clean mentally and doing it on my own.
“I started very young in the game. People keep saying to me ‘you haven’t got long to go till the Seniors Tour’, but I have got 11 years to wait for that! I have to do something! I have got a lot of miles on the clock, that was the problem, but I want to see if I get back on the ladder. I feel like a rookie again and that is how I am approaching it and we’ll see.
“You definitely need to be hungry for it with so many talented young players out here. You have to enjoy it and that, for me, is the most important thing – to enjoy playing again.”
The Oceanico Developments Pro-Am Challenge is a unique event on the Challenge Tour Schedule, with the first two rounds played as a regular strokeplay event before the format switches to a Pro-Am for the last two rounds.
Each professional to make the halfway cut is paired with an Amateur partner for the final 36 holes, with individual amateur prizes on each of the final two rounds with the professionals playing for a prize fund of £100,000.