The 2012 European Senior Tour season gets underway this week, with Peter Fowler launching his defence of the John Jacobs Trophy at the Mallorca Open Senior at Pula Golf Club.
The Australian, who sealed the 2011 Order of Merit top spot in Mauritius last December, will encounter many familiar faces and some new threats as he looks to become the first player since Sam Torrance in 2006 to retain the John Jacobs Trophy.
Torrance is among those looking to get their 2012 campaign off to a flying start on the Spanish island, along with fellow former Ryder Cup Captains Ian Woosnam and Mark James, who captured the title the last time the Senior Tour visited Mallorca in 2009, defeating Eamonn Darcy in a play-off at Son Gual Golf.
Barry Lane, whose formidable challenge Fowler held off last year to win the Order of Merit, is also in the field having decided to dedicate his full 2012 schedule to the Senior Tour, rather than splitting it with The European Tour.
While Fowler will know all about the challenge Lane will pose to his successful defence, the Mallorca Open Senior gives him the first chance to have a look at the new crop of Senior Tour rookies making their debuts this week.
Among them is Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin, the three-time European Tour winner who celebrated his 50th birthday only last Wednesday. Martin will be hoping to launch his Senior Tour career in style with a victory on home soil, while former Ryder Cup hero Philip Walton is also looking forward to his new career after coming of age in March.
Walton, who sealed victory for Europe in The 1995 Ryder Cup, is raring to go after months of practising for his debut.
“I’ve played Pula Golf Club a few times down the years and I know it can get really tough if the wind picks up,” he said.
“There are a lot of elevated greens so that’ll make it tough in windy conditions. I haven’t had great results there to be honest, but this time out it will hopefully be a bit more relaxed and I’m looking forward to it.”
There is also a debut for another former European Tour champion, Scotsman Stephen McAllister, while American Dick Mast heads the group of Qualifying School graduates also hoping to capitalise on their opportunity with a strong opening week performance.
Designed by 2012 European Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal, who will be eligible to join the Senior Tour in 2016, Pula Golf Club in Son Servera has previously hosted seven European Tour events, most recently last year’s Iberdrola Open won by Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke two months before he lifted the Claret Jug in The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s.