Former Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia admitted he hoped to use his good recent form and his fond memories of Turnberry to triumph in this week’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.
The 52 year old showed he still has the game to compete with the very best when he finished inside the top ten in last week’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes. It followed on from another excellent performance the last time The Open was staged at Turnberry in 2009 where he flirted with the lead on the weekend before finishing in the top 30.
It was, therefore, little wonder that the 13 time winner on the US PGA Tour was licking his lips in anticipation of week ahead on the Ailsa Course.
“This really is a great place,” he said. “It’s a beautiful course, a great course, and the two Opens I played here in 1994 and 2009, I played pretty well. So it’s fair to say that I’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while.
“In the 2009 Open I was in the second to last group on Saturday with Ross Fisher, I remember that. I played okay on that Saturday, and then I think I made a double on Sunday and ended up finishing a bit further back. But it was an amazing tournament with what happened with Tom Watson and Stewart Cink ended up winning.”
“As for last week, I thought I was playing pretty well coming in there so it was nice to follow it through. But, I admit a top ten finish was kind of higher than I was expecting for sure. I just basically wanted to make the cut and play some good golf and have a good finish. So a tie for ninth was great result for me and a nice surprise.”
Calcavecchia admitted that his hopes of success this week rest on not only producing good golf, but also winning the battle against the aches and pains which regularly accompany the over 50 golfer.
“My back just constantly aches,” said the winner of the 1989 Open Championship at nearby Royal Troon. “It doesn't go into spasm hardly ever but it just aches a lot. My hands have got some arthritis in my right hand and I had four shots of cortisone in it and about ready for another one.
“So little things like that that are kind of annoying. But again, almost everybody has got some sort of backache or shoulder ache or something going on with them out here, and it's interesting the guys play as well as they do considering the way most of us feel. But I hear the weather is going to be pretty good all week which will help.”
Another man who has had health issues in his career – primarily with his back – is Calcavecchia’s fellow countryman Fred Couples. It was the reason he switched to the belly putter but was a change that did not halt his success rate, the 52 year old having won seven times on the US Champions Tour in his two and a half years on the Stateside Seniors circuit.
This week at Turnberry represents the affable Seattle native’s first appearance in the Senior Open Championship, injury having caused him to miss the tournaments at Carnoustie in 2010 and at Walton Heath 12 months ago.
And the man who was recently announced as one of Davis Love III’s Vice Captain’s for the upcoming Ryder Cup at Medinah in September, admitted he was looking forward to the challenge of adding a second Senior Major title to the Senior Players Championship he won last summer.
“Turnberry is a beautiful place and I think it is a great test,” he said. “It’s my first Senior Open and I'm excited to get to tomorrow and tee off because the course is in perfect shape. I got here Sunday when it was blowing 50 miles an hour. It rained all day Monday but today and yesterday and today have been beautiful. So we have seen it all so far.
“I feel like I will be one of the guys up there this week but you have to play good golf. You can’t mess around and miss shots or you will be punished and will be bogeying a lot of holes.”