Mauritius defence spurring on Spurgeon

12/6/2010 12:56:27 PM
Kevin Spurgeon  (Getty Images)
Kevin Spurgeon (Getty Images)

Englishman Kevin Spurgeon returns to the scene of his greatest performance this week when he defends the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open title.

Spurgeon fulfilled a personal dream 12 months ago when he held off former Ryder Cup players Gordon J Brand and Sam Torrance to win his maiden professional title on the honeymoon island.

That victory, in the event which launched the 2010 season, helped the 55 year old finish 26th on the Order of Merit – his best campaign since his rookie year in 2005 - having only secured his card through the Qualifying School the previous month.

Now Spurgeon returns to host venue Constance Belle Mare Plage with nothing but happy memories of his triumph, which was built on a second round 67 over the tricky Legend Course.

“I’m really looking forward to going back,” he said. “It’s the first time I have had to defend a big title on the Senior Tour but I’m not really nervous. I’ve been playing well so I’m looking forward to it.

“Last year felt awesome to win. It ticked the box that I had wanted to tick for nearly six years. It was great to win the first event of last season – I was top of the Order of Merit for about three months! That was a bonus – I ticked that box as well!”

Trying to succeed Spurgeon as champion will be former Ryder Cup Captain Torrance, who finished in a share of third place with Angel Franco 12 months ago. Torrance, who is seeking to regain the John Jacobs Trophy he won as leading Senior Tour player in 2009, was one of the first players to congratulate the Englishman on his maiden triumph.

“Sam was over the moon for me,” said Spurgeon. “He was one of the first people to come and say well done and he stayed with me after I finished and had some beers and champagne. It was a nice moment.

“I felt like I was playing fairly well last year and I did play well in the tournament. I’ve played the course a lot and I knew it was a hard course. My second round set me up really. I shot five under. It’s a tough course but I kept it in play. The last day was a bit harder obviously when I was under pressure but I played solid.”                                                                                                                                                         
The man who replaced Torrance as Number One, Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit, is also in the field and will start among the favourites given his formidable form in hot conditions, which are virtually guaranteed in Mauritius.

Ruangkit won four times in 2010, in Brunei, Thailand, South Africa and Spain and has already made a strong start to the defence of his Order of Merit crown, finishing in a share of fifth place in the Handa Cup Senior Masters in Japan.

Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn, who was also tied fifth in Japan, continues his pursuit of a maiden Senior Tour title, and is joined by former Ryder Cup player Barry Lane, who finished ninth.

Frenchman Marc Farry, who helped attract the Senior Tour to Mauritius, will be hoping for success at the venue he is attached to after capturing one of his two titles in 2010 in the Cannes Mougins Masters, an event he also helped organise.

South African David Frost, who lost in a play-off to Tom Lehman in last year’s US Senior PGA Championship, returns to Senior Tour action in the event he made his debut in last season, finishing tied fifth.