By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at Rockliffe Hall
As the English Senior Open returns to the Senior Tour schedule this week for the first time in six years, Order of Merit leader Paul Wesselingh has targeted a home double to bolster his bid for a maiden John Jacobs Trophy.
After seeing his lead at the top of the 2013 money-list slashed to just €11,929 as Peter Fowler claimed the French Riviera Masters two weeks ago, Wesselingh is doubly determined to press home his advantage this week on native soil at the majestic Rockliffe Hall in County Durham.
The 2012 Rookie of the Year has already triumphed twice so far in 2013, the first of which came when he retained the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship across the Pennines in Cheshire in June, and he said a victory this week would be one to savour for a number of reasons.
“It would be fantastic to win a second tournament in England after the PGA earlier in the year, that would be a great double,” said Wesselingh.
The 52 year old also prevailed at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland in July while a fine run of three top ten finishes in his last four starts has put the Liverpudlian in pole position to become Senior Tour Number One with just three events remaining after this week.
Wesselingh, though, says it is important to remain focussed solely on his golf and not let premature thoughts of the John Jacobs Trophy become too prevalent.
He said: “It almost came as a surprise to find myself at the top of the Order of Merit all of a sudden, and hopefully I can keep hanging on, but there are a lot of good players not far behind.
“Pete (Fowler) is playing very well so he’s certainly going to be a threat, as is Steen (Tinning) and all you need is someone to win out of the blue and they will also be right up there.
“I’m aware of my position but I’m not trying to think about it too much or you just get too wound up on that and end up not concentrating enough on your game.
“But it would be nice to follow up Rookie of the Year with an Order of Merit title – what an awesome first two years on Tour that would be.”
Carl Mason, who was forced to withdraw on the eve of the tournament with a recurring back injury, won the first three editions of the English Senior Open in 2003, 2004 and 2006, while Scotland’s Bill Longmuir returned victorious the last time the event was held in 2007.
A passionate spokesman for golf in his country after more than 25 years as a club professional before turning 50, Wesselingh also said he was thrilled to see the event back on the calendar.
“This is my first time at Rockliffe and it really is lovely,” he continued. “It’s absolutely superb to get the English Senior Open back and I’m looking forward to it. It’s so important to have an event like this on the schedule; we have all the other countries that have their national Opens so to have ours back as well is great.
“Along with other events like the PGA, the Travis Perkins and – this year – the Senior Open to be held in England it can only be good for the game.
“The English crowds love their golf so it’s nice to have such a core of events here adding up to a great overall schedule.”