Iron man Tinning awarded Rookie of the Year honours

1/8/2014 2:40:00 PM
Steen Tinning  (Getty Images)
Steen Tinning (Getty Images)

Few Senior Tour debuts have come much sweeter than that of Steen Tinning, after a two title season saw the Dane finish second in the race for the John Jacobs Trophy and named the 2013 Rookie of the Year.

Having notched a couple of European Tour titles in a career that spanned 16 years from 1986, Tinning has made quick work of claiming a comparable amount of silverware in his first 12 months of senior action as he finished the year as runner up to Paul Wesselingh in the Order of Merit.

Germany was the scene of the first of his two senior triumphs, where the triathlon fanatic held off the advances of one Bernhard Langer en route to a narrow one stroke victory at the Berenberg Masters last August.

That win was then followed up two months later by a second title at the English Senior Open held at Rockliffe Hall, which alongside a further four top tens in 2013 had Tinning poised to challenge for the Senior Tour top spot alongside Wesselingh.

The Englishman finished the season strongly though, adding victory at the Fubon Senior Open and the MCB Tour Championship to success at the Bad Ragaz Senior Open and his title defence at the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship, all of which eventually saw Tinning finish in second on the Order of Merit. The Dane was still very pleased though with a fine first season of senior action.

“I’m very proud of what I achieved in 2013, winning twice,” said Tinning. “The feel at the end of the season wasn’t that good, but Paul played so well and was a hard man to catch. We have to look forward to 2014 now and make him the lone rabbit that we all have to catch.

“That’s the greatest thing you can have – someone to chase - and I know it will inspire me to work even harder over the winter and have an even better year.

“What Paul achieved last year was tremendous. I played with him in the first round in Mauritius and he showed no weaknesses in his game. He was superb last year, and he is one of the top senior players in the world. He showed it in Taiwan and he showed it again in Mauritius, and all the congratulations should go to him for that.

“Winning the rookie of the year was a nice consolation for me, I’m very happy with that as it was my main goal at the start of the year and I was never really thinking about the Order of Merit until I was in contention for it.

“There are lots of good players who have won the Rookie of the Year on the Senior Tour, such as Woosnam and Rocca, so I am in good company. I think it will inspire me to do better next year as well.”

Tinning will have to work hard to maintain his fine form, but there are few who train more in the senior ranks on their physical fitness than the Dane, known by many as the Iron Man thanks to his love of the endurance races of the same name.

Earlier in his career he suffered a car accident that sidelined him for 18 months in 1990, but returned as one of The European Tour’s more consistent performers en route to claiming two quick fire titles at The Celtic Manor Wales Open in 2000 and the Telefonica Open de Madrid two years later.

Injury eventually bought his career to an end in 2003, but having kept his skills sharp on his native ECCO Tour back in Denmark, he is now reaping the rewards of this next phase in his game.

Having finished runner up to Paul Wesselingh, who himself was in his second year of over 50s golf, Tinning will now embark on a sophomore season of his own after a winter of hard work, and of course, the odd iron man or two for good measure.

“There is an Iron Man in Mexico,” said the 51 year old. “I will probably just take part in a few half iron-mans though before the start of the new season, which will be good fun. I like to keep active and work on my fitness but I will be working on my golf too.

“I’m not a natural guy who has a lot of confidence, it has to be built, so I will be hitting a lot of shots over the winter. I’ll take plenty of confidence from last season though, I have belief in what I can do, I know what I have to work on and I hope to play better next season. That’s the aim.”