Manuel Ballesteros – brother of three times Open Champion Seve – makes his European Seniors Tour debut in the Lawrence Batley Seniors at Huddersfield Golf Club starting today (June 24).
Ballesteros, 50 years old on June 22, will tee-up against Tommy Horton, Europe’s number one for the last three seasons, defending champion Bobby Verwey, David Jones, winner of the recent Jersey Seniors Open, Neil Coles, Eddie Polland, Brian Waites and 1998 Senior British Open champion Brian Huggett.
Moreover he launches his Seniors Tour career on the week that Seve returns to European Tour action in the Compaq European Grand Prix only 100 miles away at De Vere Slaley Hall, Northumberland.
Ballesteros said: “We finish up Saturday here so it would be nice to play well and have the chance to go and see Seve on Sunday.
“The key for me is to test my game competitively again. I’ve entered the Elf Seniors Open next month just south of Biarritz and that might be a lovely omen because I won the Timex Open on the European Tour there in 1983. I’m also exempt for the Senior British Open then it’s the Energis Seniors Masters at Wentworth.
“I plan to play as much as I can, and see how it goes. If I start well then I’ll play the rest of the season then take it from there.”
Manuel made his breakthrough on the European Tour when he won the Timex Open at Biarritz, 15 years after winning the Open Costa Vasca at the same venue. The Spaniard started out as a caddie before turning professional in 1967 and, after two years National Service, returned to tournament golf to finish runner-up to Peter Townsend in the 1971 Swiss Open. During his career he has acted as both mentor and manager to Seve.
Manuel will renew old acquaintances on the European Seniors Tour this week with the likes of Townsend and a host of stars from the past three decades. Another Spaniard, and something of a Huddersfield GC speicialist, playing this week is Antonio Garrido, winner here in 1997 and runner-up to South Africa’s Verwey after a play-off last year.
Twelve months ago Verwey made it ninth-time lucky when he finally succeeded winning a play-off at the ninth attempt to capture the title when he played a superb bunker shot on the first extra hole to beat the defending champion.
It was the second time Verwey had won this event, the first being in its inaugural year in 1992, the year the European Seniors Tour was born.
The tournament has been a popular fixture on the European Seniors Tour Schedule and this week will be played for the eighth successive year.