The European Seniors Tour returns to Sweden after an absence of three years when the STC Scandinavian International gets underway at Kunsangen GC.
The new £225,000 STC Scandinavian International is the first Seniors event to be staged in Sweden since England's Maurice Bembridge succeeded Australia's Noel Ratcliffe as the Swedish Seniors champion at Fagelbro in 1998 and it has attracted a strong field that includes current European Seniors Tour Number One, Denis Durnian, plus all but one of the winners on this year's European Seniors Tour.
Seiji Ebihara, winner of the AIB Irish Seniors Open and the Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters, has decided to take the week off but in his absence Durnian, 51, from Manchester, will be attempting to widen his advantage at the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit.
Durnian has been a revelation on this season's circuit. He won the lucrative Wales Seniors Open, finished second at both the Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters and the Lawrence Batley Seniors, and notched a third place at the AIB Irish Seniors which means that he goes into the Swedish event with a massive euro 77,909 (£47,220) lead at the top of the Order of Merit with earnings of euro 207,582 (£125,812) for the season.
The Englishman will start out as favourite but he will face stern opposition from Australia's Noel Ratcliffe, last year's European Seniors Tour Number One and the winner of this year's Beko Classic in Turkey; Ian Stanley, winner of the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship; Denis O'Sullivan, winner of the Palmerston Trophy Berlin and Nick Job, the club pro at Richmond Park GC, who wrested victory from Durnian's grasp with a closing round of 63 at the Lawrence Batley Seniors tournament at Huddersfield GC.
Also expected to tee up is Brazil's Priscillo Diniz, the champion at the season-opening Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open provided, that is, that he has recovered from the ruptured arm muscle that forced him to withdraw after two rounds at the Palmerston Trophy in Germany.
Tommy Horton, who has headed the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit five times since 1993, also hopes to return to competitive action after pulling out of the Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters and then missing the subsequent Lawrence Batley event in Huddersfield, and he will be joined by Bembridge, David Huish, Bob Shearer, Brian Huggett, Neil Coles and former Open and US Open champion, Tony Jacklin.
Jacklin, who will go straight from Sweden to compete in the Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, the scene of his historic triumph in 1969, missed the cut during his only other Seniors start this season at the AIB Irish Open but he is a past winner in Sweden, having captured the 1974 Scandinavian Open at Bokskogens.
The STC Scandinavian International is the first of three Senior Tour Championship Series events to take place on European Tour Courses
. All will receive extensive daily TV coverage on Sky TV. The others will be the STC European Invitational at Woburn G & CC on
September 7-9 and the STC Seniors Tour Championship at the PGA Golf de Catalunya on November 2-4.
The Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard, to be held at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle, N.Ireland on July 26 to 29 and can be seen on Sky Sports.