Brand returns to scene of epic victory

6/4/2012 12:00:14 PM
Gordon J Brand  (Getty Images)
Gordon J Brand (Getty Images)

Gordon J Brand is hoping that he can reproduce the kind of form that earned him two successive European Senior Tour titles in 2008 when he returns to the scene of the first of those wins at the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship this week.

It is the first British-based Senior Tour tournament of the season at De Vere Slaley Hall in Hexham, outside Newcastle, after two Spanish forays in Mallorca and Benahavis, with the season’s first Major at the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid in between.

For Brand, it is a place which holds great memories, having beaten namesake Gordon Brand Jnr in an epic play-off battle there in 2008.

That was the first of two successive victories as the 56 year old went on to win the following week at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters and, while Brand is not going into the tournament on the kind of form he would like, he is hopeful that the game can come together in time to produce a title tilt this week.

“I like the course at Slaley Hall,” said the former Ryder Cup player, whose sole victory on The European Tour came at the 1989 Volvo Belgian Open. “It’s just a shame my game isn’t a little better at the moment but you have to strike form some time so you never know.

“I'm holing some putts at the moment and when you do that you’ve always got a chance. Unfortunately those putts aren’t getting me the low scores they should be getting when you’re playing well.

“It’s nice there and the heat on the continent can sometimes get to you so I look forward to getting a cool breeze and you’re likely to get that at Slaley Hall.”

They were incredible scenes at the North Eastern venue in 2008 when Brand and Brand Jnr went toe to toe in a play-off that lasted an hour and a half as the Englishman beat the Scotsman at the fifth play-off hole, the par three 17th, after playing the 18th four times without producing a winner.

The Leeds-based player believes that memories of that victory can evoke some confidence and help him seal a sixth Senior Tour title.

“I wasn’t playing great but just steady going into that tournament and you just need to think your way around certain holes and Slaley Hall and Woburn are both very similar in that respect,” said Brand.

“You have to be concentrating and if you do that you’ll get around in a reasonable score. I’ve got to try and remember those wins and get back in that mood.

“If you’ve done it there once you know you can do it so you’re not under that pressure where you think that the course doesn’t suit you.

“I'm doing the odd good round at the moment but not three and the scoring is so good on this tour now you need three good rounds or you won’t catch up to the leaders. It’s attainable, I'm still hitting the ball a good distance, I'm working on some things with my swing and hopefully it will all come together at once.”

Brand will be joined by a host of Senior Tour stars, including former Ryder Cup Captains Sam Torrance and Mark James, who just missed out on a first Senior Tour win since 2009 in Spain last week.

Two time winner on tour this year, Gary Wolstenholme, will arrive brimming with confidence after his win at last week’s Benahavis Senior Masters.

Last year’s Order of Merit winner Peter Fowler will be hoping to improve on his start to the season with a good finish at Slaley Hall, while Barry Lane will be looking to go a step better than the tied fourth finish he earned at the Benahavis Senior Masters last week.

Defending champion is Scotland's Andrew Oldcorn, who won by nine shots last year to claim his maiden European Tour title.