Paul Wesselingh returns to De Vere Mottram Hall to defend the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship on a course where he claimed his first professional victory 19 years ago.
The 51 year old Englishman won the PGA North Region Championship at the same venue in 1994, and his return to the scene of that triumph has stirred some particularly fond memories ahead of the defence of his maiden European Senior Tour title.
His return was made even more special after having been awarded the honour of PGA Advanced Fellow Professional ahead of Wednesday’s Pro-Am competition.
He said: “I distinctly remember standing outside the clubhouse and lifting the trophy with my two twins in my arms. I’ve still got the picture on my wall at home, so hopefully I can add another picture come the end of this week.
“I know the course here very well and it’s in great condition, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there and hopefully I can do myself justice as the defending champion.”
The change of venue this week is therefore unlikely to faze Wesseling, who won in such fine style 12 months ago at De Vere Slaley Hall, where torrential rain throughout the week saw the Championship cut to 54 holes.
Wesselingh took the disruption in his stride, overturning a four shot deficit to Mark James on the final day thanks to a fine five under par round of 67 for a six under par aggregate total and a one stroke victory over Senior Tour winner Anders Forsbrand and defending champion Andrew Oldcorn.
Two more top three finishes, alongside a further six top tens, culminated in Wesselingh capping a dream debut season with a fifth place finish on the Order of Merit.
He said: “When I look back at last year, it’s still a dream come true really. If someone said to me now that I could have the same year as last year, I’d snap their hand off.
“To win this tournament in my third event on the Seniors Tour – I have to keep checking the record books to make sure it actually happened!
“Probably the turning point for me was making the cut in the US Senior PGA Championship, the week after I’d made my debut on the Senior Tour. I had a really good last round, and it gave me the confidence to believe I could compete with all these great players out here.”
Having braved the rain 12 months ago, Wesselingh will look to prove that he can handle better conditions this week when, with the weather set fair, he will be keen to mount a strong defence of his title.
“This is a big golfing region so with the weather forecast looking great for the week, hopefully we can get a few spectators through the gates.
“I don’t think it stopped raining the entire time last year, so it’ll be nice to play in short sleeves this week, even though I’m a pretty good player in tough conditions. But hopefully I can prove I’m a fair weather player this week.“We’ve got a busy spell coming up over the next few months, so it’d be great to get off to a good start here and get on a roll.”