An assortment of ex-footballers and cricketers taking part in the Bat and Ball Challenge (EuropeanTour)
Our man on the ground at the De Vere Mottram Hall takes you behind the scenes of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship…
From Mauritius to Mottram St Andrews
Some six months after the 2012 Senior Tour season ended in Mauritius, the 2013 campaign gets underway in the rather less exotic – but no less welcoming – surroundings of Mottram St Andrew. On the surface the two places have little in common, but this week’s weather forecast is more typical of Mauritius than Cheshire, with temperatures expected to peak at a whopping 23 degrees. With the last two editions having been blighted by torrential rain, perhaps it is only just that the weather gods smile on us this week.
Wesselingh bidding for a twin triumph
One man who might’ve preferred the rain to fall is defending champion Paul Wesselingh, who defied the treacherous conditions at Slaley Hall 12 months ago to win his maiden Senior Tour title in only his third appearance. The Englishman admitted he may have benefitted from a return to the north-east but, given his intimate knowledge of Mottram Hall, the change in venue certainly won’t hinder his attempts to mount a successful defence of his title. Indeed, Wesselingh won his first event as a professional at the Mottram St Andrew venue in 1994, so has very fond memories of the place. The 51 year old has a picture to commemorate the victory on his wall at home, with him holding the trophy in one arm and his twin sons in the other. Nineteen years on, and with Ryan and Sean now both strapping lads, it would take a herculean effort to repeat that celebration!
Bat triumphs over ball
As has become a tradition with the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship, the worlds of cricket and football collided in the Pro-Am on Wednesday, when the likes of Harry Redknapp, Darren Gough, Steve Staunton and Steve Harmison competed against one another in the “Bat ‘n Ball Challenge”. Former Crystal Palace and Bolton manager Iain Dowie fared best of the footballers in the Pro-Am, as his team – led by Gordon Brand Jnr – finished second, one ahead of the highest-placed cricketer, erstwhile England and Lancashire batsman Neil Fairbrother. It was the cricketers who walked away with the top honours – much to the delight of captain Gough, who celebrated almost as exuberantly as he did after taking a hat-trick in the 1999 Ashes series.