Friday, 19 March 2010
America's John Grace returns to the scene of the third of his three 2000 European Seniors Tour victories when he tees up in this week's Big 3 Records Monte Carlo Invitational at Monte Carlo GC.

Grace defends his title against a strong field that includes four out of five of this season's double winners, all of whom will be endeavouring to join Tommy Horton, John Morgan and Grace in the select band of only three golfers who have won three titles in a single season on the European Seniors Tour.

Twelve months ago Grace, a career amateur who represented the United States in the 1975 Walker Cup at St Andrews, arrived in Monte Carlo having won The Belfry PGA Seniors Championship and the Ordina Legends in Golf. He added to that list of victories when he closed with a four under par 65 to finish on eight under par 199, five shots ahead of England's Maurice Bembridge and six shots in front of two other Englishmen, David Creamer and Jim Rhodes.

It was a victory worth 35,139 euro (£21,000) and also made the American just the fifth man in European Seniors Tour history to finish a 54-hole event with an aggregate of under 200, emulating Brian Waites and Denis O'Sullivan (1998 Elf Seniors Open), Bob Shearer (1999 Bad Ragaz Seniors Open) and David Oakley (2000 De Vere Hotels Seniors Classic.

Subsequently, both Scotland's David Huish and Australia's David Good have also achieved that feat, both having finished on 12 under par 198 at the 2001 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open before Huish won the resultant sudden-death play-off on the first extra hole.

This season, Grace, from Fort Worth, Texas, has been unable to defend the other two 2000 titles and to do so in Monte Carlo he will have to overcome Noel Ratcliffe, Denis O'Sullivan, Ian Stanley and David Oakley, all of whom have won twice on the 2001 European Seniors Tour.

Oakley, a former furniture store manager from Orlando, Florida, became the fifth double winner on this season's European Seniors Tour when he added the Scottish Seniors Open title to the Energis Senior Masters title he had won at Wentworth Club two weeks before and he made no secret of the fact that he would love to emulate compatriot, Grace, by going on to do the treble.

"I am really looking forward to going to Monte Carlo and then to Greece because they are both tight courses which suit my game," Oakley said after collecting a 35,592 euro (£24,990) cheque at The Roxburghe that moved him up to fourth place on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit with 163,578 euro (£103,246).

"I'm not sure there are enough events left for me to catch Ian Stanley and Denis Durnian at the top of the money list but I'd love to emulate John (Grace) and win three times in a single season. "Now, that's my main goal."

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