European Senior Tour champion David J Russell is hoping to mount a successful title defence at this week’s Fuji Film Senior Championship, where he collected the biggest paycheque of his career 12 months ago.
Russell’s return to the Country Club Japan, in Chiba, with bring back fond memories for the Englishman, who earned his second Senior Tour title at the French Riviera Masters in September.
Russell’s victory saw him join his friend Ian Woosnam (2009) in the winners’ enclosure, and earned him some 14,000,000 Japanese Yen (over €120,000), plus a Mercedes-Benz car – which he gave to his wife, Krystyna.
Russell, who finished two shots clear of Jong-Duck Kim, believes the course at the Country Club Japan is ideally suited to his game.
He said: “The course was just right for me. You had to flight the ball pretty well, it was very up and down – a course that suited my eye.
“After my practice round, I thought to myself: “I’ve got a good chance here”. Modern courses don’t often give you the sort of challenge that I like, but there were a lot of fades and a lot of shots where you had to take the spin off – whereas most courses nowadays you have to just hit straight and long.
“I texted Woosie for some advice on how to win there, and I won’t say what he said but it obviously worked! It’s a great tournament, and hopefully I can win it again this year.
“They have some wonderful players out here and the tournament was really focused on entertaining the crowds, and making it a great atmosphere. There were big crowds and a lot of media focus from television and newspapers, so I’m really looking forward to going back.”
The omens would appear to be good for another successful raid by Senior Tour Members, with Frenchman Marc Farry, Australian Peter Fowler, England’s Barry Lane and Thai ace Boonchu Ruangkit all performing creditably at the recent Japan Senior Open Golf Championship.
John Jacobs Trophy winners Ruangkit (2010) and Fowler (2011) finished fifth and eighth respectively, with Lane – currently in second place in the Senior Tour Order of Merit – sandwiched between them in sixth.
Two-time Senior Tour champion Farry finished in a tie for 17th place.