Lyle leads European charge at Valhalla

23/05/2011 10:18:25
 Sandy Lyle   (Getty Images)
Sandy Lyle (Getty Images)

Former Masters and Open Champion Sandy Lyle will hope to convert his recent resurgence into a maiden Senior Major when he heads a strong European continent at the US Senior PGA Championship.

Lyle currently tops the European Senior Tour Order of Merit after winning his first tournament in 19 years in the ISPS Handa Senior World Championship presented by Mission Hills China in March.

He leads the 26 Senior Tour members crossing the Atlantic for the first Senior Major of 2011, which will be played at Valhalla Golf Club, the host venue of The 2008 Ryder Cup.

Paul Azinger, the man who led the United States to glory in that Ryder Cup, is part of the American challenge in Kentucky, along with defending champion Tom Lehman, the man he succeeded as Ryder Cup Captain.

But Lyle will be hoping that 23 years after he won his second Major Championship, the Masters Tournament, he can repeat the feat on American soil by becoming only the second European winner of the US Senior PGA Championship, following fellow Scot Fred McLeod in 1938.

Another Scot with a rich Ryder Cup history hoping to conquer America is Sam Torrance, while compatriot Andrew Oldcorn will be looking for another strong showing after finishing tied eighth last year on his debut in a Senior Major Championship.

Hoping for a similar start to their career in the Senior Majors will be former European Tour winners Englishman Mark Mouland, playing in his first Senior Tour event, and Swede Anders Forsbrand, who made his debut in last week’s OKI Open de España by Cleveland Golf/Srixon.

“I wouldn’t change anything about my European Tour career, the only thing is I would have liked the opportunity to play in more Majors,” said Forsbrand. “I played in The Open a few times but not as many in the other three majors.  It’s going to be wonderful to have another chance to play in Majors on the Senior Tour now. Hopefully I can compete in them.”
Bernhard Langer, who holds the other two Majors on the European Senior Tour schedule, The Senior Open Championship and  the US Senior Open, misses the chance to make it a clean sweep after failing to recover from a thumb injury sustained two months ago.

Instead he will be focused on returning to fitness in time for the defence of his Senior Open crown at Walton Heath in July, leaving the remainder of the Senior Tour contingent to fly the flag at Valhalla, including South Africa David Frost who lost in a play-off to Lehman last year.

It is the second time Vahalla Golf Club has hosted the Senior PGA Championship after 2004. Notably,  Valhalla is only the third course to host a US PGA Championship, a US Senior PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup.