The remarkable Neil Coles defends his title in the 1999 Philips PFA Golf Classic at the superb setting of the Marriott Meon Valley Hotel and Country Club this week.
Coles, who later this year reaches the age when he can collect his old age pension, remains a youngster at heart as he proved in capturing the Philips title after a dramatic play-off with Ireland’s David Jones.
It was his 11th Seniors Tour victory to set alongside 22 on the main European Tour, and underlined the fact that, even as he approaches the official retirement age in September he can still fend off challenges from the ‘younger brigade’ among the Seniors.
Last week, Coles claimed the First National Super Seniors cheque for the over-60s in the MDIS and Partners Festival of Golf at Mill Ride.
The Philips PFA Golf Classic is now in its third year and is a unique event on the European Seniors Tour. It is the only tournament to combine sportsmen from two different sports in serious competition – golf and football.
This is a perfect opportunity to combine the enormous excitement of the Premiership and League football with the increased popularity in Seniors golf. Prize money for the 1999 event has increased to 150,000 euro and it is hoped that there will be an increase on the 12,500 crowds who thronged Meon Valley last year to watch the big names in the two sports in action.
Those from the football world have the highest profiles – most notably Sir Bobby Charlton, the great Dutchman Marco Van Basten, Ian Walker of Tottenham and Southampton’s mercurial star, Matt Le Tissier.
Subject to his availability, it is hoped that Manchester United’s successful manager, Alex Ferguson, will be able to take part in the festival of fun and football.
The footballing list reads like a who’s who with John Hartson, Neil Ruddock and Gary McAllister, and from the past, Trevor Brooking, Alan Brazil and Clive Allen.
Roger Woods, director of corporate relations at Philips, commented: “We are thrilled with the support we are getting from the Seniors Tour and the footballers, who are hoping to raise £50,000 for the PFA Benevolent Fund.
“We will try to provide a great day out for everybody, especially with the coaching clinics for young, aspiring footballers and golfers and also youngsters trying sport for the first time.”
Last year, Coles claimed the title with a sudden-death play-off victory at Marriott Meon Valley, and has already shown that he hasn’t lost his touch this season.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: “Following Neil’s dramatic win last year, we are naturally looking forward to another exciting tournament in the company of many professional footballers.
“Neil is certain to be up again increased competition from the likes of Tour rookie Bernard Gallacher, who will be experiencing the Philips PFA Golf Classic for the first time at the impressive facility of the Marriott Meon Valley Hotel and Country Club.”