Mark James of England, the last European to win a Senior Major Championship, and Des Smyth, the Irishman who went closest to repeating the feat, will spearhead the European Seniors Tour challenge in the 27th US Senior Open Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club, Hutchinson, Kansas.
James registered the biggest success of his Senior career when he won the Ford Seniors Players’ Championship in 2004 – one of his two titles on the US Champions Tour – while Smyth lost in a play-off by Tom Watson at last year’s Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management.
Both men are among the leading overseas contenders for the Championship at the 6,646 yard, par 70 Prairie Dunes Country Club.
They will be joined in the field by fellow European Seniors Tour Members, Bob Charles of New Zealand, Mark McNulty of Ireland, American Pete Oakley and South Africa’s Gary Player.
Charles, Oakley and Player are all past winners of The Senior British Open Championship, while McNulty is looking for his first Major after finishing fifth behind Oakley at Royal Portrush in 2004.
Smyth said: “My target at the start of this year was to win one of the Major Championships. The problem is that I have been battling with my form recently. My iron play is letting me down and I am pushing too many shots, but I have been working hard and hope to have it right for the US Senior Open.
“I had a great chance last year at The Senior British Open but did not take it. I know that if I am playing well then I am in with a chance of winning.”
Last year, Allen Doyle erased a nine-stroke deficit during the final round to capture his maiden US Open title. His amazing eight under 63 gave him a one stroke victory over fellow Americans D.A. Weibring and Loren Roberts.
Doyle’s closing round tied the lowest 18 hole score for any of the three USGA Open Championships, while his nine-stroke comeback established a new record for the largest comeback in a final round.