Tommy Horton will be the man to watch when the Beko Classic gets under way at the impressive Gloria Golf Resort, Antalya, on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey.
Horton, the winner of four successive European Seniors Tour Order of Merit titles, goes into the event, not just as defending champion, but also fresh from his victory at The Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open, the opening event on this season’s European Seniors circuit.
The Englishman, who will be 59 in a couple of months time, was in fine form when he recorded rounds of 70-70-68 to finish two shots clear of 1999 Rookie of the Year, Jerry Bruner, at Royal Westmoreland and he will be further boosted by the fact that he has won the Beko title twice in the last three years.
Horton recorded his first Turkish success when he won the 1997 Beko Classic, staged at the National Golf Club co-designed by David Feherty and David Jones in Antalya. He then finished fourth at the Gloria Golf Resort in 1998 and won again last year, when the event was staged for the first time over the superb Klassis course.
Last year’s event provided a thrilling climax, with Horton firing a closing three under par 69 to finish one shot ahead of Californian, Alan Tapie, and two ahead of another American, Ray Carrasco.
This year’s event, which has a prize purse of $300,000, and a first prize of $50,000, has attracted its usual strong field with Horton, Tapie and Carrasco being joined by all but one of the men who finished in the top-10 at this season’s opener at Royal Westmoreland.
One man to watch will undoubtedly be Bruner, who has still to record his first victory on the European Seniors Tour but has now finished second no less than five times in his 18 starts since joining the Tour last season.
The American was disappointed not to win in Barbados but remains confident that he will break into the winner’s circle before too long.
“It’s just a matter of time before I win one,” he said after collecting a cheque for 17,367 euro at Royal Westmoreland. “I am hitting the ball so well, just not holing any putts. But this has made me even more determined to win.”
Another man who is also striving to secure his first European Seniors Tour title is former Ryder Cup captain, Bernard Gallacher, who finished fourth in Turkey 12 months ago, a mere four shots behind the winner, Horton.
Gallacher remains optimistic about winning but is well aware that the Tour’s rapidly improving strength in depth will make it more and more difficult as time goes on.