18th Hole - Stoke by Nayland ()
Europe’s leading senior golfers are set to dazzle in East Anglia this year with the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship returning to Stoke by Nayland for a third time.
Defending champion Paul Wesselingh and a clutch of ex-Ryder Cup stars will take centre stage at the resort which previously staged the prestigious tournament in 2006 and 2007 when it was won by Sam Torrance and Carl Mason respectively.
The 72-hole showpiece, the oldest on the European Senior Tour schedule dating back to 1957, will take place over Stoke by Nayland’s Gainsborough course from Thursday, June 5 to Sunday, June 8.
Reigning Senior Tour Order of Merit winner Wesselingh will be the man to beat as he bids to emulate legends Christy O’Connor and Neil Coles by lifting the title for a third successive year following his triumphs at Slaley Hall and Mottram Hall.
Former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam, who finished third behind Wesselingh last year, has been a regular competitor in the event while another Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie is eligible to play for the first time having turned 50 just two weeks after last year’s tournament.
A spokesman for ISPS commented: “On behalf of everyone at ISPS we are thrilled to announce our support of the 2014 ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.
“Having supported golf for over 25 years, we feel passionately about the history and heritage of the sport. ISPS is honoured to be involved with one of Europe’s most established and important tournaments and look forward to Paul Wesselingh going for a hat-trick of titles at a fantastic new venue.”
As part of their sponsorship of the tournament, ISPS has also backed an academy programme to train PGA pros in coaching blind and disabled golfers – a cause close to Dr Handa’s heart as he bids to take golf into the Paralympics.
Free lessons for disabled golfers by specially trained PGA coaches will again be a feature of the tented village at the Suffolk venue during tournament week.
PGA chief executive Sandy Jones added: “Having previously staged two championships at Stoke By Nayland Golf Club, we know we can be sure of a warm welcome and also an excellent test of golf for the best players.
“Last time it was contested, the competitors were full of praise for the course particularly the greens so we look forward to another exciting event.
“With an array of past Ryder Cup players in the field and the elite of European seniors golf, we look forward to another successful tournament and hope golf fans come and support the event.”
Stoke by Nayland has a long history of hosting top flight golf having staged the Weston Homes PGA International Seniors and is a regular stop on the PGA Europro Tour.
Andy Stubbs, managing director of the European Senior Tour, said: “We are delighted that the Senior Tour will be heading to Stoke By Nayland for the first time since 2008, when Nick Job won the Weston Homes PGA International Seniors.
“Having also hosted the PGA Seniors Championship for the two years prior to that, when Sam Torrance and Carl Mason triumphed, it is a great pleasure to return to a venue that has produced some great champions and which has always afforded our players a warm reception and superb hospitality.
“We will also look forward to seeing whether Paul Wesselingh, our 2013 Order of Merit winner, can win this event three years in a row, which would be a remarkable feat."
Susanna Rendall, managing director of Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf Club and Spa added: “We are thrilled to host this prestigious event once again and are particularly pleased to welcome Europe's best senior golfers back to our hotel and golf course.
“We feel we have both the experience and enhanced facilities to do justice to such a major European tournament and I am certain that players and spectators alike will have a wonderful few days in this beautiful part of the country.”
Stoke By Nayland boasts two championship courses – the Constable and Gainsborough - and is located in 350 acres of rolling hills, woodlands and lakes, on the edge of the Dedham Vale where world famous artist John Constable painted many of his best known works.