Friday, 19 March 2010
Tony Jacklin returns to his home patch in the north of England when he tees up in this week's Lawrence Batley Seniors Open at Huddersfield GC.

The Scunthorpe-born former Open and US Open Champion joins defending champion, Nick Job, and previous winners, Alberto Croce, Antonio Garrido, Malcolm Gregson, David Huish, John Morgan, Eddie Polland and Bobby Verwey in arguably the strongest field ever assembled for the European Seniors Tour's oldest event.

Jacklin turned 50 in 1994 but this is the first time that he has competed in the event since it became part of the Seniors Tour schedule. However, he did play in it three times when it was a European Tour event, the last being back in 1985 when he finished tied for 31st place behind Australia's Graham Marsh at The De Vere Belfry.

The Englishman will be making his first visit to the Huddersfield GC course where Job won last year's title in stunning style. The club professional at Richmond went into the final round two shots behind the overnight leaders, Maurice Bembridge, Liam Higgins and Jay Dolan III, but then fired a course record eight under par 63 to emerge with a four shot victory over Denis Durnian. That 63, compiled in breezy conditions, turned out to be the lowest winning round of the 2001 season. What is more, it also came within one shot of matching Tommy Horton's Seniors Tour record for the lowest final round by a winner, set at the Scottish Seniors Open at Newmachar in 1997.

Job was in sparkling form 12 months ago and he will need to produce something similar if he is to fight off the challenge from the impressive field assembled against him. That field includes seven past winners, 13 of the winners on the 2001 Seniors Tour, plus all five winners on this season's Tour.

Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge, Japan's Seiji Ebihara, American Steve Stull, England's Peter Townsend, and another American Gary Wintz have all tasted success on the 2002 Seniors Tour but it may well be the hugely impressive Ebihara who starts as tournament favourite.

Ebihara makes just his third appearance of the season in Huddersfield but, already, he has shown he is the man to beat.

The Japanese golfer first hit the headlines when he closed with a two under par 70 to successfully defend his AIB Irish Seniors Open at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort. Then, he finished in a tie for fourth place behind Cambridge at the subsequent Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters at La Moye, in the process narrowly missing out on another title he won in 2001.

Cambridge birdied the last two holes to emerge with a slender one shot win in Jersey and another man to impress in the Channel Islands was Stull, the runaway winner at last season's Seniors Tour Qualifying School in Portugal.

Stull, a former club professional from Richland, Washington, won the Qualifying School by a record ten shots and then made an immediate impact on the Seniors Tour itself, emerging victorious on just his second time out at the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic. Since then, the American golfer has continued to impress. In Jersey, he began the final round in a share 35th place but started birdie, eagle, birdie on his way to compiling a spectacular six under par 66 that lifted him into the top ten.

Wintz, winner of the Flanders Nippon Presents Legends in Golf event in Belgium, also performed well in Jersey and so, too, did the resurgent Horton.

Horton celebrated his 61st birthday with a share of second place alongside compatriot, Ian Mosey, in Jersey and he is starting to show the sort of form that suggests a 24th Seniors Tour victory might just be around the corner.

The former European Seniors Tour Number One could well be a challenger this week and nor can fellow Englishman, Neil Coles, be discounted either. To date this season, Coles has made just two Seniors starts, finishing tied 22nd at the AIB Irish Seniors Open and in a share of 11th place in Belgium but last year he finished third at Huddersfield illustrating that, even at the age of 67, he remains a serious threat.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BEMBRIDGE, MauriceENG1821
T2STULL, SteveUSA18-4
T2COLES, NeilENG18-4
T2CREAMER, DavidENG18-4
5O'SULLIVAN, DenisIRL18-3
6CROCE, AlbertoITA18-2
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