Bland in the mood for Bad Ragaz defence

6/28/2010 12:16:07 PM

In-form John Bland defends his Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open title this week, 12 months after creating a piece of European Senior Tour history in the Swiss Alps.

The South African defeated Bob Boyd on the second extra hole at Bad Ragaz Golf Club last season, nearly 14 years after his previous Senior Tour victory in the 1995 London Masters.

That set a new record for the longest time between wins on the Senior Tour and Bland also become – at the age of 63 and 313 days – the second oldest different winner on the Senior Tour after Neil Coles.

The two-time European Tour champion had a significantly shorter wait for his next victory, claiming the title on his last outing in The Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Royal Porthcawl a fortnight ago.

After taking a week off in between, Bland returns to the spectacular Resort Bad Ragaz in a bullish mood as he seeks to become the first person to successfully defend a Senior Tour title since Carl Mason in 2008 – ironically in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open.

Among those hoping to deny Bland is Mason, who has a superb record in the event having won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008.

The three-time Senior Tour Order of Merit winner holds the joint course record of 61 (-9) with 2006 champion Juan Quiros – a score which is the lowest Senior Tour round along with Bob Cameron’s 61 in the 2004 Sanremo Masters.

Mason recently became the first player to pass the €2million mark in career earnings on the Senior Tour and, on a course he knows so well, the Englishman is now targeting Tommy Horton’s record of 23 Senior Tour wins, lying just one victory short of that benchmark.

“I’ve had two good wins in Bad Ragaz and a course record so I quite like it and my game is looking and feeling better after a top ten finish last week,” said Mason, who recently celebrated his 57th birthday.

“So hopefully I can have a good week. It’s one of those course where if you get going you can shoot a low number. Hopefully it will be soft as we’ve played on a lot of hard courses lately.

“It’s a great event as we are looked after so well. The food is great and the hotel is beautiful. It would be a great place to equal Tommy’s record. I want that to come along soon to get it out the way and this is somewhere I’ve won before so you never know.”

Also in the field will be the Senior Tour Order of Merit leader Boonchu Ruangkit and the newest Senior Tour champion David J Russell.

The Englishman ended a Senior Tour record streak of nine runner up finishes when he won The De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championships last week. Russell’s last second place came in the 2007 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open and he returns to Switzerland  after becoming the sixth first time winner in the 2010 season.

The 2010 edition of the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open will carry an increased prize fund of €250,000 – a rise of €30,000 from last year – as it returns to the stunning Resort Bad Ragaz for the 14th consecutive year.

There will also be television highlights of the event for the first time this year, broadcasting the sublime Bad Ragaz Golf Club and magnificent back drop of the Swiss Alps to a global audience.