Woburn showdown marks Senior Tour halfway stage

8/23/2013 3:58:53 PM
The European Senior Tour flag   (Getty Images)
The European Senior Tour flag (Getty Images)

As the European Senior Tour stars head to Woburn Golf Club for the Travis Perkins plc. Senior Masters, the 2013 season passes halfway. With eight events down and eight to go, europeantour.com assesses the story so far…

Back in May, the season began with a bang as a record 28 Senior Tour Members took to Bellerive Country Club in St Louis for the US Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.

As Australia’s Peter Senior headed the European contingentwith a tied 11th finish in Missouri, Japan’s Kohki Idoki, successful on the Japan Golf Tour in his regular career, set the theme for a multitude of first-timer winners in 2013 in winning on his maiden appearance in America.

Rookie of the Year in 2012, England’s Paul Wesselingh picked up where he left off last year in defending his ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship title at De Vere Mottram Hall in June in the first event of the calendar on European soil, firing a best-of-the-week 64 to win by four in Cheshire.

Wesselingh has proved a revelation since joining the senior ranks last year, where he won the aforementioned ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship in only his third start on the Senior Tour en route to a fifth place finish in the Order of Merit.

The Liverpudlian is on target for bettering that mark in 2013, riding high at second in the money list currently with €111,439 after adding the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open to his burgeoning win list in July.

Golf Club Bad Ragaz, as has often proved the case, again yielded a number of season-bests as Argentina’s Luis Carbonetti fired the low 18 of the 2013 season thus far with a fine seven under par 67, while Wesselingh’s nine under par, 201 aggregate total is currently the low winning total of the year.

Wesselingh came from seven shots back after 36 holes to triumph in Switzerland, just one shot outside the all-time Senior Tour record of eight, set by Bob Shearer in the 1998 Jersey Seniors Open.

England’s Philip Golding, meanwhile, is leading the consistency stakes this season, having amassed four top ten finishes in seven starts in 2013 and is currently fifth in the Order of Merit largely thanks to a superb victory at the Speedy Services Wales Senior Open in June.

It was redemption for Golding, having narrowly missed out on his first Senior Tour victory in finishing runner-up in the same event in 2012, overhauling a six-shot deficit held by home favourite Ian Woosnam heading in to the final round at Royal Porthcawl.

Kenny Perry romped to victory as 14 European Senior Tour members contested the US Senior Open Championship at Omaha Country Club, with South African Chris Williams the leading Senior Tour Member on two under in a tie for ninth, followed by Australian Peter Senior and German Bernhard Langer, currently Number One in the Order of Merit, who finished a shot further back.

It was another American who prevailed at Royal Birkdale in The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, as Mark Wiebe overcame a marathon five-hole play-off – the longest on the Senior Tour since 2006 – to defeat Langer on Monday morning after storms and fading light had earlier put paid to a regular Sunday finish.

Wiebe proved the first of three first-time winners in succession – the first time this has happened since 2011 – as Steen Tinning became the first Dane to win on the Senior Tour when he captured the Berenberg Masters earlier this month, while Spain’s Santiago Luna won the SSE Scottish Senior Open last week in just his sixth appearance on the Senior Tour.

Luna and Tinning look set to battle it out for the 2013 Rookie of the Year award, ranking eighth and fourth in the Order of Merit currently while a number of their more seasoned contemporaries are also chasing accolades of a different nature.

Des Smyth, who is next week hoping to become just the fourth player to win the same official Senior Tour event on three occasions after Neil Coles, Carl Mason and Tom Watson, is also looking to become the first to win in four consecutive seasons on the Senior Tour, a bid the 60 year old shares with England’s Barry Lane.

With the second half of the season starting on Woburn’s revered Duke’s Course, the question remains: who will be crowned King come season’s-end at the conclusion of the MCB Tour Championship in December?

Only time will tell, but the denouement promises to be a tale worth telling…