Former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr is hoping that Royal Porthcawl’s first staging of The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex can inspire him to Major success, 32 years after he claimed his maiden European Tour title at the famous Bridgend links.
Brand Jnr held off the challenge of future World Number One and Major Champion Greg Norman to win the Coral Classic in 1982, sealing an unforgettable breakthrough victory just a year after turning professional.
He will return to Royal Porthcawl from July 24-27 when the venue hosts Wales’ first Senior Major Championship, and the Scot, who has been a long-time resident in nearby Bristol, is targeting another title challenge.
“It is the closest thing I will get to home Senior Open and Royal Porthcawl is special for me as I won my first European Tour title there way back in 1982,” said Brand Jnr. “It is a great course so I couldn’t be happier that the Senior Open is going there for the first time.
“I would hope to contend in the Senior Open. I’ve not done too well in the last two, but there is no reason I shouldn’t. I know the golf course well and I do like links golf courses, so it is just down to me and whether I take my game with me or not.
“I think there is always a bit of support which comes across from Bristol and I have the good memories of the course. You try to focus on those things and it is a case of remembering you can play the golf course even though it is tough.”
After securing his maiden title at Royal Porthcawl, Brand Jnr went on to win a further seven times on The European Tour and represented Europe in The Ryder Cup in 1987 and 1989. He has also won twice since joining the European Senior Tour - his latest victory coming in the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany last September - but the 55 year old has vivid recollections of his first success, which he still regards as one of his finest.
“I could really play the game then,” he recalled. “I remember that Carl Mason was in contention and Greg Norman. I had a great caddie on the bag who nurtured me through the rounds in Peter Coleman who used to caddie for Norman.
“On one hole, Norman said to Peter ‘why didn’t you tell me what you’ve just told Gordon’, and he said ‘well, you didn’t need it, Gordon’s just a young lad’. So I’ve got some great memories of my first win there. I’ll always remember the two iron I hit into the last to secure the victory. I won by three, but it was a wonderful shot.
“An awful lot of players come through with a great amateur record, but to win on Tour confirms a great deal to you and I really did play some of my best golf ever at Royal Porthcawl to win that week.”
Brand Jnr’s best finish to date in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex was a share of 12th position in the 2011 Championship at Walton Heath. However, he is relishing the opportunity this year to take on a links course that he will know better than the majority of the field, having also finished fourth at Royal Porthcawl in the 2010 Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open.
“It’s a links course, right by the sea, but the good thing about Porthcawl is it doesn’t just go out and come back. It’s all over the place and the wind is going to be difficult there. There are a few blind tee shots and you have to drive the ball well. It’s an extraordinary clubhouse there – it has a lovely feel to it when you get there and it is a very pleasant place to play.
“It’s a classic links course in the same bracket as Birkdale and Turnberry, where we have played the last two Senior Opens. We are very fortunate to play on these classic courses. They really haven’t changed the dynamics of them. I know Porthcawl will play a little longer but they don’t need to change these classic courses as they are so good.”
American Mark Wiebe won The 2013 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Birkdale, defeating two-time Masters Champion Bernhard Langer in a play-off.
The Championship delivered the best of senior golf with Wiebe and Langer joined in the field by stars such as Fred Couples, Sandy Lyle, Tom Watson and Welshman Ian Woosnam, along with
Colin Montgomerie, the man who led Europe to Ryder Cup glory at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.
Tickets for The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex can be bought online via www.senioropengolf.com or by calling +44 (0)800 0232557, with details of hospitality packages also available.
St David's Day Offer
To celebrate St David’s Day and the first Senior Open Championship to be held in Wales, 146 pairs of tickets (the number of days from St David’s Day to the start of the Championship) are being sold at £40 per pair on a first come first serve basis.
The promotion will run until 5pm on March 1 (or until all tickets have been sold)
To buy a pair of “St David’s Day” tickets for the Senior Open please contact the ticket hotline on 0800 023 2557 or via www.senioropengolf.com, click the ticket tab, select the ticket Promotion Offer and place SD14 in offer code on the ticket page.
The St David’s Day tickets gives admission to the event on any one day Thursday July 24 to Sunday July 27, saving £10 per person on the gate price of £30 per ticket.