England's Denis Durnian will be endeavouring to overhaul Australia's Ian Stanley at the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit when he tees up in this week's Legends in Golf tournament at Crayestein GC in Holland.
With the current Number One Stanley, taking a well earned rest after winning both the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship and the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard, Durnian, the winner of the lucrative Wales Seniors Open, can overhaul his Australian rival and move back to the top of the list but only if he can overcome a strong field that includes last year's winner, John
Grace, plus four other winners on this year's European Seniors Tour.
The American, Grace, had a slow start to the 2001 European Seniors Tour season, but he showed at the recent Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, where he closed with a six under par 64 for a share of fifth place, that he is almost back to the sort of form that helped him to win three times on last season's circuit.
His win in Holland was the second in that sequence and came after he posted rounds of 71, 68, 68 to finish on six under par 207, one shot ahead of Northern Ireland's David Jones, a man who has missed the whole of the European Seniors Tour season to date after breaking his collar bone in a freak accident in the States.
Grace will take a lot of confidence into the Legends of Golf event, as will some of the other big current form horses. Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan and Japan's Seiji Ebihara will both be attempting to win for a third time this season in Holland and Scotland's David Huish and Brazil's Priscillo Diniz will also be hoping to join the list of repeat winners.
Huish was in sparkling form when he closed with two successive 64s to defend his title at the aforementioned Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland, but so, too, was former Irish amateur champion, O'Sullivan, whose share of seventh place at that event meant that he has now won twice, in the Palmerston Trophy Berlin and the STC Scandinavian International, and notched no less than five top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season.
With Scotland's Bernard Gallacher and Australia's Noel Ratcliffe, the men immediately above him on the Order of Merit, missing the Legends in Golf event, O'Sullivan has a chance to move into the top four on the money list, and maybe even higher if Japan's Ebihara does not produce his normal steady form.
Ebihara, winner of both the AIB Irish Open and the Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters, joins New Zealand's Simon Owen and England's Denis Durnian as the only three men to go into the final third of the season with six top 10 finishes under their belts and like, Durnian and O'Sullivan, he harbours hopes of overhauling Stanley and winning the John Jacobs Trophy, awarded to the leader of the official European Seniors Tour Order of Merit.
That particular race, which was won last year by Ratcliffe, seems certain to go right to the wire, with Stanley, Durnian, Ebihara, Gallacher, O'Sullivan and Ratcliffe himself still in with a shout. Indeed, the only thing that is certain is that it will be won with a record amount of prize money. Stanley who has won 243,286 euro (£150,783) and Durnian, with earnings of 226,240 euro have already surpassed Tommy Horton's record haul of 221,798, achieved in 1997, and several of the others are almost certain to follow suit.