As the European Senior Tour looks forward to its 21st season, a fresh crop of former European Tour winners are preparing to join the ranks for 2012, strengthening the contest to succeed Australian Peter Fowler as Number One.
Ian Woosnam was the last 50 year old to win the Senior Tour Order of Merit, claiming the John Jacobs Trophy in his rookie season in 2008, and the new recruits for the 2012 will be hoping they can make a similar impact to the 1991 Masters Champion.
Englishman Malcolm Mackenzie will be keen to launch his Senior Tour career in 2012 after turning 50 last September. Mackenzie, who finished fifth in the 1992 Open Championship, joins the Senior Tour ten years after his sole European Tour victory in the 2002 Open de France.
First to come of age in the new year is Stephen McAllister of Scotland, who is eligible for the Senior Tour from his 50th birthday on February 16.
McAllister won twice on The European Tour, capturing both the Atlantic Open and the KLM Open in 1990 to finish 19th on the Order of Merit.
He will be joined on the Senior Tour in 2012 by Irishman Philip Walton, who turns 50 on March 28.
Walton won three times on The European Tour, making his breakthrough in the Open de France in 1990 before winning twice during the 1995 season in the Open Catalonia and the English Open.
His form during the 1995 campaign earned him a Ryder Cup appearance at Oak Hill and he will be remembered for securing the winning point for Europe, gaining a crucial victory over American Jay Haas in the penultimate singles match.
Another newcomer to the Senior Tour fold will be Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin, who like Walton was a three-time European Tour champion.
His maiden victory also came in the Open de France, capturing the title in 1992, and he went on to add the Heineken Classic in 1997 and the Moroccan Open in 1999. Martin, who turns 50 on May 2, was the first continental European to make 500 appearances on The European Tour and earned a place in The 1997 Ryder Cup but was forced to withdraw due to a wrist injury.
Making it a quartet of former Open de France champions joining the Senior Tour in 2012- alongside, Mackenzie, Martin and Walton - will be Philip Golding, who lifted the trophy at Le Golf National in 2003.
That was Golding’s only European Tour victory but came after twice winning on the European Challenge Tour, in the 1993 Rolex Pro-Am and the 1999 Open de Volcans, and the Englishman will be hoping for more success upon joining the Senior Tour ranks.
Golding celebrates his 50th birthday on July 25 meaning he could make his debut in The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex at Turnberry which begins on the following day.
The Senior Open Championship will be one of the highlights of the 2012 campaign, when the new crop of Senior Tour players will hope to emulate 2011 rookie and former European Tour Champion Mark Mouland, who captured his maiden title in the Belas Clube de Campo Senior Open de Portugal in October.
They will also have one eye on finishing the season as Rookie of the Year, succeeding Englishman Gary Wolstenholme who finished fourth on the 2011 Order of Merit. Wolstenholme will be one of the players hoping to challenge for the John Jacobs Trophy in 2012 after Australian Peter Fowler’s hard-fought battle with Englishman Barry Lane last season.
Fowler finished €32,154 clear of Lane in the 2011 Order of Merit, with Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn in third position, while Woosnam, two-time Major Champion Sandy Lyle, former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance and the Senior Tour’s most successful player Carl Mason will all be targeting the John Jacobs Trophy.