Bernhard Gallacher will be seeking his first European Seniors Tour title in front of his home fans this week when he tees up in the Scottish Seniors Open over the new Dave Thomas-designed course at The Roxburghe near Kelso.
Gallacher, a former Ryder Cup player and captain, won 13 times during his successful career on The European Tour and would like nothing better than to claim his first European Seniors Tour victory in Scotland. But he will have to share the support of the local crowds with several other members of what is undoubtedly the strongest Scottish contingent ever assembled in the championship, first played in 1993.
Also present will be North Berwick's David Huish, who won the title at Dalmahoy in 1998, and who remains the sole Scot to lift the title, current British Seniors Club Professional champion John McTear, plus newcomers John Chillas, Mike Miller, Willie Milne and Russell Weir, all of whom have turned 50 during the last six months or so.
Chillas, the club professional at Stirling, and a PGA Cup regular, makes his debut on the European Seniors Tour at The Roxburghe only a matter of months after winning the Scottish Professional Championship over the Monarchs course at Gleneagles exactly 25 years after he won it for the first time.
Huish, who closed with two consecutive six under par 64s to successfully defend the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland earlier this month, joins four other former champions in the field - Noel Ratcliffe, the defending champion, Antonio Garrido, champion in 1994, Tommy Horton (1997) and John Morgan (1996).
Ratcliffe has already won twice this season, capturing the Beko Classic and the De Vere Hotels Seniros Classic, and currently lies third in the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit behind Ian Stanley and Denis Durnian.
Stanley, Durnian and Ratcliffe will start out among the favourites to capture the title at The Roxburghe but, up against them, the next five golfers on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, New Zealand's Simon Owen, Japan's Seiji Ebihara, Gallacher, Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan and Morgan, will all be trying to finish ahead of them, thereby edging closer to earning one of the two UBS Warburg Cup places awarded to the top-two European Seniors Tour players at the end of the 2001 season. The field also three other 2001 winners, Brazil's Priscillo Diniz, England's Nick Job and America's David Oakley.
Also in the field are Australia's Rodger Davis, who made his debut on the European Seniors circuit by finishing in a share of 17th place at the Energis Senior Masters at Wentworth Club, another debutant in former European Tour winner Ian Mosey, as well as Victor Garcia, the club pro at the Club de Golf del Mediterraneo, Spain, but, more significantly, also the father of Ryder Cup star, Sergio Garcia.