The battle for supremacy in the European Senior Tour Order of Merit heads to a new venue this week when Rockliffe Hall, in County Durham, hosts the English Senior Open.
After an absence of six years, the tournament returns to the Senior Tour schedule for a fifth edition, having been previously played in 2003, 2004, and 2006, when Carl Mason completed a hat-trick of victories, and latterly in 2007 when Bill Longmuir triumphed at St Mellion.
It is the fourth Senior Tour tournament of 2013 to be played in England, following June’s ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship at De Mottram Hall, July’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Birkdale and last month’s Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters, at Woburn Golf Club.
The player who triumphed in the first of those events, Englishman Paul Wesselingh, currently leads the contest for the John Jacobs Trophy, holding a €11,929 advantage over Australian Peter Fowler in the Order of Merit with earnings of €173,213.
Fowler, the 2011 Senior Tour Number One, moved into contention to reclaim that crown with victory in the French Riviera Masters a fortnight ago, coming from four shots behind Andrew Oldcorn to win by three at Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort.
With only four events remaining on the 2013 schedule, both Wesselingh and Fowler will be targeting victory in the £200,000 tournament to boost their chances of overall success in the season-long Order of Merit race.
The pair are among seven winners from the 2013 season in the field, being joined by Gordon Brand Jnr, Simon P Brown, Philip Golding, Santiago Luna and Steen Tinning.
After missing out in France, Oldcorn will be hoping to join that group and capitalise on his fine recent run of form. The Scot heads to Rockliffe Hall on the back of four consecutive top ten finishes, including runner up in both the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany, when he carded a superb final round 61, and last week’s French Riviera Masters.
Oldcorn’s sole Senior Tour victory came in the north east of England at the 2011 PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall, and he will be hoping the region holds more success for him.
Barry Lane returns to action after missing the trip to France, and the former Ryder Cup player is looking to make it four top ten finishes in consecutive appearances. Meanwhile, Englishman Gary Emerson, winner of the 2004 Russian Open on The European Tour, makes his Senior Tour debut after turning 50 last Thursday.
The five-star Rockliffe Hall, which hosts a Senior Tour event for the first time, was selected as the Olympic training camp for both the US Ladies’ football team and Team GB’s Men’s and Ladies’ teams prior to their London 2012 campaigns. The resort was also chosen as an official FIFA training venue for the 2014 World Cup bid.