Paul Wesselingh is confident that he can put the finishing touches to a dream year by sealing the European Senior Tour Order of Merit at this week’s MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius.
The Englishman has won three times in 2013, including the previous event on the schedule, the Fubon Senior Open in Taiwan, meaning he tees it up at Constance Belle Mare Plage with one hand on the John Jacobs Trophy.
Wesselingh is currently €47,936 clear of nearest rival Steen Tinning heading into the final event of the season, with a first prize of €62,814 on offer.
That means Dane Tinning would need to win the MCB Tour Championship and rely on Wesselingh, who is on a run of five straight top ten finishes, being outside the top seven.
Having finished tied sixth over the Legend Course 12 months ago as he collected the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award, Wesselingh is quietly determined not to let the Senior Tour’s Number One spot slip from his grasp.
“I’m reasonably confident because I have quite a big lead, but I know I still have to play well as Steen is playing great,” he said. “If he wins, then I’m in trouble. I’d love to win the Order of Merit, and I will be disappointed if I don’t win it, but whatever happens it will have been a great year. Even if I finish second, to win three times is a dream. I won the Rookie of the Year at this event last year, so to win the Order of Merit here as well would be fantastic.
“It would be the highlight of my career to win it. I’ve watched these guys for so many years and idolised many of them. To be able to play with them now for a couple of years and compete with them is special. I look at it and find it hard to believe that I am in this position. It’s a wonderful feeling.
“Whatever happens though, I will be delighted with my season. At the start of the year winning the Order of Merit was not even on my radar. Last year I exceeded my expectations, having started the season hoping to finish in the top 30 to keep my card. I said if I could do the same this year and win a tournament and finish in the top five I’d be very happy. To win three times and be leading the Order of Merit is something else.”
Wesselingh shot a second round 65 in last year’s MCB Tour Championship and feels the Legend Course suits his carefully managed approach to the game.
“I played great in Taiwan and I’ve been hitting it well again this week, so I’m feeling good about my chances,” he said. “Playing well here last year helps too. I’m confident about the course. It’s a tight course and playing longer this year as I think they had some rain last week. It suits my style of play as I tend to hit it quite straight off the tee. The emphasis is on that round here.”
This year’s MCB Tour Championship is the third time the Senior Tour has finished the season in Mauritius, and Wesselingh underlined his growing stature in the senior ranks by joining 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie, defending champion David Frost, Mauritius ambassador Marc Farry and Tinning in helping to launch the tournament on Monday night.
The quintet took part in a press conference and an ‘island challenge’, where they attempted to hit from the beach at Constance Belle Mare Plage to a small rock island 194yards away in the Indian Ocean.
Like many of the players, Wesselingh has taken the opportunity to bring his family, including his three teenage sons, to the spectacular resort, and he is hoping to celebrate with them on Sunday night.
“The whole family is here again this week, like they were last year, and they love it in Mauritius,” he said. “It’s heaven. This is like their holiday. I’m now in work mode, but they are here to enjoy themselves and it would be special to win the Order of Merit with them here to watch.”