In-form Wesselingh banking on local knowledge

7/23/2013 2:26:23 PM
Paul Wesselingh  (Getty Images)
Paul Wesselingh (Getty Images)

He is the form player on the European Senior Tour, with two victories already in 2013, and Paul Wesselingh can also draw on some local knowledge in this week’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.

The Senior Tour Order of Merit leader was born in Liverpool, less than 20 miles from host venue Royal Birkdale, and played the numerous links courses on the Merseyside coast as a youngster learning the game.

He hopes that experience will prove vital this week as he takes on some of golf’s most iconic names, including defending champion Fred Couples, debutant Colin Montgomerie and Tom Watson, arguably the greatest links player of all-time.   

“I was brought up no more than half an hour away from Royal Birkdale and I played it quite a lot over the years,” he said. “I really like the course and it’s in great condition, so it should be a good week. The fact that we have now had a little bit of rain has softened it up a bit.

“I grew up in Wigan so I’ve played a lot of the courses down this stretch of coastline and hopefully that can help me this week.”

Wesselingh has adapted seamlessly to life on the Senior Tour, winning the 2012 Rookie of the Year award before his two victories this season:  a successful defence of his ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship followed by a play-off victory over Kevin Spurgeon in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open.
 
The 51 year old will begin his Senior Open Championship campaign alongside Senior Major Champions Fred Funk and Michael Allen at 13.40 on Thursday, ten minutes before Fred Couples begin his defence alongside Colin Montgomerie and Mark O’Meara, and Wesselingh  is relishing the challenge that awaits.
 
“It’s been an unbelievable start to the season for me and I’m delighted with how I’ve played,” he said. “I was a bit rusty in the US Senior PGA Championship but then I came back and won the PGA Seniors.

“I then played poorly in Wales but won in Bad Ragaz, which was my type of course. I was disappointed to miss the cut in the US Senior Open, but I was ill during that week and struggled in the conditions. So I come here with confidence high and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m really happy with how I’m striking the ball and how I’m putting. Everything is coming together quite nicely. Obviously I never envisaged me winning two events in the first four, but it takes the pressure off for the rest of the season now.

“It’s great coming into The Senior Open as the Order of Merit leader. Some of these guys in the field are amazing players and it is going to be great to try to beat them.”