Our press officer brings you all of the action from behind the scenes at the European Senior Tour finale, the MCB Tour Championship.
After another wonderful European Senior Tour campaign, the curtain comes down on 2012 this week with the MCB Tour Championship here in Mauritius. Now, I know what you are thinking: tough place to come and work, but rest assured, we will battle through. Our host venue, Constance Belle Mare Plage, is a pretty special place to spend the final week of the season. With temperatures averaging around 28°C and magnificent facilities (both at the course and the hotel), you couldn’t ask for a better setting to conclude the campaign. And for Roger Chapman, what a memorable campaign it has been. The Englishman, who has already sealed the Order of Merit title, will be hoping to replicate the example set by Rory McIlroy in last month’s season finale on The European Tour. Rory went into the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai having already won The Race to Dubai in a season that brought him Major glory. Of course the World Number One went on to crown his own coronation by winning the tournament and Roger will be hoping to do exactly the same this week in order to sign off a season in which he won both the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and the US Senior Open. Two years ago, in the MCB Open, Roger took a two shot lead into the final hole but then lost in a play-off after South African David Frost eagled the last here at Constance Belle Mare Plage. Earlier that week he had found out about the passing of his long-term mentor, former Ryder Cup player George Will, and Roger had dearly wanted to win in his memory. So it will be particularly sentimental place for him to collect the John Jacobs Trophy here this week. For defending champion Tom Lehman it will also be a week of celebration after the former US Ryder Cup Captain captured his second consecutive Charles Schwab Cup on the US Champions Tour last month. Tom denied David back-to-back victories at Constance Belle Mare Plage with his one shot victory 12 months ago. The former World Number One will, of course, be among the favourites this week, but he has identified Tim Thelen as one of his main threats. Tom and Tim are friends from growing up in Minnesota and for the latter, a three-time winner in 2012, there is plenty to play for this week as he tries to finish the season in second place on the Order of Merit. Tim is €8,157 behind Englishman Barry Lane in the Order of Merit, so watch out for that particular battle.
It has become a tradition in recent years to launch the MCB Tour Championship with a Monday evening press conference involving some of the main protagonists, which always takes place outside on the patio at the Legend Course. Present this year were: Tom Lehman, Roger Chapman, Barry Lane, David Frost and Marc Farry and some of our sponsors. Of course, there aren’t many finer settings in which to conduct a nice relaxed conversation with some of the star attractions and what could possible go wrong, you might think, other than the normal press conference wrestle with technology. Well, your correspondent found out exactly what could go wrong when, as MC of the conference, I was just was about to begin my opening address. As I was looking down at my carefully prepared notes, a passing bird dropped an unexpected present all over me and my papers, covering some of the names I was about to attempt to pronounce. Sadly, I was not the only victim, as Mr Farry was later to suffer the same fate during the conference. They say it is meant to bring you good luck, so perhaps this could be Marc’s week.
A new addition
A new addition to the Legend Course this year, which you might spot on the television coverage at some point, is a giant floating golf ball situated just off the 18th green. A rather conspicuous structure, this in fact is a state of the art golf simulator operated by Off Course Golf, which is being launched in Mauritius this week. In the name of research I took a wander down to take a look for myself, as have a few of the professionals already this week, and I have to say it is a rather impressive bit of kit. Costing between €35,000-80,000 depending on which extras (such as cameras and music systems etc) you add, the simulator allows you to play some of the top courses in the world, and analyses your swing, with a distance accuracy to the nearest five cm. You could certainly spend a few hours in one of these things, that is for sure. To read more about it, click here.
A few familiar faces
In addition to the Senior Tour players, we have a few familiar faces here this week playing in the various Pro-Ams. European Tour professionals Philip Price, Miles Tunnicliff, Peter Baker and Jean-François Remesy are all here to participate on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as enjoying the resort and beach afterwards.