Barry Lane, Glenn Ralph, Sam Torrance, Anders Forsbrand and Bill Longmuir (Phil Inglis) (Getty Images)
Defending champion, Anders Forsbrand of Sweden, and four other past winners of the SSE Scottish Senior Open, have already graduated with honours in the tournament being played this week at the Torrance Course at Fairmont St. Andrews.
And the masterful quintet, who lined up to test their putting skills in the historic St. Salvator’s Quadrangle in St.Andrews University – this year celebrating its 600th anniversary – are now ready to face another tough examination paper over the next three days.
Forsbrand, who came top of the class after a titanic battle with Philip Golding 12 months ago, two-time winner Barry Lane, Sam Torrance, Bill Longmuir and Glenn Ralph, donned full University gowns and mortar boards and were joined by two University Ambassadors, undergraduates Linda Gibson and Pamela Forbes, to launch the 2013 tournament at the course designed by Torrance.
All the golfers, more experienced in the university of life on the golf courses of the world from an early age, were able to drink in the ancient and historic surroundings as a means of seeking inspiration for the latest edition of the SSE Scottish Senior Open.
Torrance, who was named earlier this week as captain of the Great Britain & Ireland team for next month’s Seve Trophy presented by Golf +, joked: “I barely got to school, never mind university! I actually left school at 13 to concentrate on becoming better at golf.
“It’s nice to be here in the old town of St. Andrews with a bunch of previous winners of this title. We know it’s a bit of light-hearted fun to be in this lovely place dressed in the gowns and hats which were meant to make us look intelligent – but it didn’t work!
“No, seriously, it’s nice for the five of us to be able to help promote the fact that the tournament is taking place here over the next few days. We are back at the original course design, which is fantastic, and the condition is great. We’ve got a wonderful group of greenkeepers and the greens to me are as good as you will find in Scotland.
“St. Andrews is very special to me. In the past it was always for a golf tournament like The Open or the Dunhill Cup or Dunhill Links and the place itself was really busy. However when we did the course we were here for three months and it was great to see the town in different circumstances. Just a lovely place to come to.”
Forsbrand, the first Swede to win on the European Senior Tour, admitted that he is now at an age where he can appreciate his surroundings when he travels the world on golfing business.
The 52 year old, who held off a spectacular charge by Golding last year to win the title, said: “It’s great to be in such a wonderful setting. When we were young golfers we didn’t really look closely at the culture of where we went so it’s nice to be here. I’ve probably walked past the area a number of times and never noticed it!
“I read more about the history of places we go to these days and look around the locations more often. St. Andrews has special memories, winning the SSE Scottish Senior Open over the Torrance Championship course was fun. Any win in Scotland is special and St. Andrews is the Home of Golf and I’ve been lucky enough to win this title having enjoyed winning the Dunhill Cup for Sweden some years ago. It’s a neat place.
“Last year was wonderful the way Phil, DJ Russell and I all played on the last day. I think we were a combined 18 under par which is pretty special for the last group on Sunday.”