Andrew Oldcorn has set his sights on successfully defending the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship title at De Vere Slaley Hall, England, after recovering from an eye operation that halted his progress in 2011.
The Scot registered his maiden Senior Tour title with a stunning nine stroke triumph to gain a unique PGA double, following his win in The European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in 2001, but after moving to the top of the Order of Merit, his John Jacobs Trophy aspirations were subsequently derailed by a cataract.
Following successful surgery in October, Oldcorn, who finished third on the 2011 Money List behind Peter Fowler and Barry Lane, will head another star-studded field at the Northumberland resort for the 72-hole event from June 7-10.
With a new sponsor in the shape of ISPS, chaired by renowned Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa, the £250,000 PGA Seniors Championship remains a highlight in the calendar as Oldcorn all too readily appreciates.
“Winning last year was a huge moment in my career, obviously in terms of getting the PGA double, but also my first win on the Senior Tour,” he said.
“Apart from the Majors, the PGA Championship is the one tournament that you really want to win and I am lucky to have done it on both the European Tour and the Senior Tour now. Doing the double definitely made my first victory even sweeter. In fact it couldn’t have been better. It’s a nice goal to now try to defend the title.”
Oldcorn was four over par after nine holes, but flawless over the remaining 63 holes of the tournament to cruise to one of the most comfortable wins of his illustrious career.
“I hardly made a mistake, but even with three or four holes to go I didn’t feel close to victory,” he said. “It is that sort of course. Both my caddy and I had lost track of how many clear I was and it was only when I was going down the last that I felt I would win.
“Slaley Hall has always suited me, but there is so much danger on practically every hole. Even seemingly easy holes can be tough if you lose your concentration. It is a good test but I do feel comfortable there.
“I just played really well that week, and it might never happen again that I win by nine shots. So I’m really looking forward to going back and I’m hoping for another good week.”
In addition to supporting one of the European Senior Tour’s flagship events, ISPS, in partnership with the PGA, has launched the ISPS Handa PGA Academy Programme, an initiative focusing on training PGA professionals to coach blind and disabled golfers – a cause close to Dr Handa’s heart with his ambition to make golf a Paralympic sport.
Dr Handa said: “Blind and disabled golfers face a number of challenges in developing their game and to be able to provide them with greater access to specialised coaching is something we are very proud of. It will be great to see some of the coaches at work with local blind and disabled golfers at Slaley Hall during the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.”
De Vere’s director of golf and leisure Daniel Hodson added: “We’re delighted to welcome back the PGA Seniors Championship to Slaley Hall in 2012.
“With a new headline sponsor in ISPS Handa bringing a fresh approach to the week’s events, I’m sure that this will be a memorable championship and another fantastic showcase of world class golf in the North East.
“The tournament being played over the Hunting Course is a great platform for De Vere Golf and we are looking forward to welcoming another star-studded field for this years’ event.
“The addition of ISPS Handa’s passion for golf and desire to make the game more accessible to blind and disabled golfers is a great addition to the event, and we look forward to building a long and successful relationship with them.”
Spectators can gain FREE admission to the tournament by downloading a ticket at www.devere-hotels.co.uk/pga-seniors