Friday, 19 March 2010
David Oakley returns to the scene of his fourth European Seniors Tour victory when he tees up in this week's Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe near Kelso.

The American arrived in Scotland last September having just won the Energis Senior Masters at Wentworth Club and he repeated that sort of form at The Roxburghe with a scintillating display that saw him crowned as the ninth Scottish Seniors Open champion.

Amongst the favourites this week is Japan's Seiji Ebihara, who has won three times on this season's Seniors Tour and built an unassailable lead at the top of the Order of Merit.

Ebihara started the season in style when he won the AIB Irish Seniors Open at Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort. He added the Wales Seniors Open a month later and then produced an outstanding display to claim his third win of the season at the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at the De Vere Carden Park.

The Japanese golfer was in irresistible form as he claimed a ten shot victory over Americans, George Burns and Steve Stull, in that Championship, posting a record 21 under par total of 267.

Ebihara has posted eight top 11 finishes in his ten starts this season, a level of consistency that only England's Denis Durnian has matched. To date, Durnian has not won this season but he has recorded eight top ten finishes in 14 starts, and did finish second behind Ebihara at both the AIB Irish Open and the Wales Seniors Open.

This year's event is also graced by a strong Scottish contingent headed by John Chillas, Bernard Gallacher, 1998 champion David Huish,  John McTear, Mike Miller and Russell Weir.

Gallacher goes into the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open as one of just three British golfers to have achieved a victory on this season's increasingly cosmopolitan European Seniors Tour, the others being Englishmen Neil Coles and Peter Townsend.

The man who won 13 European Tour titles and took part in eight Ryder Cups as a player and another three as Europe's Captain collected his maiden Seniors Tour title when he won the recent Mobile Cup at the Stoke Park Club near London.

The Scot was in sparkling form on his way to winning the €30,474 (£19,500) first prize. He produced rounds of 67, 68 and 66 to finish four shots ahead of Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge on twelve under par 201 and in the process ended his doubts about his ability to win on the Seniors Tour. 

"I feel as if a massive weight has just been lifted off my shoulders," said the Scot after collecting the trophy. "I've been desperate to win since I joined the Seniors Tour in 1999 but I just couldn't quite seem to be able to do it.

"I have to admit there were times when I got very despondent," he added. "There were moments when I would sit around and wonder if I would ever win so you can imagine how great this feels now.

"I am particularly pleased because I played so well while winning," he added. "It's great to win and even better that I was able to score a 66 while doing it."

The former professional at Wentworth Club has struggled to find his best form since winning at the Stoke Park Club but the same cannot be said for Chillas who is enjoying a hugely successful rookie season on the Seniors Tour.

The club professional at Glenbervie has still to win on the Seniors Tour but he goes into the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open in eighth place on the Order of Merit after accumulating no less that five top ten finishes in his first nine starts this season.

The former Scottish PGA Champion started his 2002 campaign with a fine second place finish at the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic and he has since also finished fourth at the Seniors British Open, presented by MasterCard, tied fourth at the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors  Open, tied fifth at the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship and tied eighth at the Flanders Nippon presents Legends in Golf.

Chillas will attract a sizeable following at The Roxburghe but the biggest draw might well be England's Tony Jacklin who returns to this championship for the first time since 1998.

Jacklin, the former Open and US Open Champion, has had a mixed 2002 season but at his best he remains highly competitive, as he showed while finishing tied for fourth at the Wales Seniors Open. 

This year's Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open is the tenth in a sequence stretching back to 1993. England's Tommy Horton won the inaugural event, held at Royal Aberdeen and subsequently also claimed the title at New Machar in 1997. Other past winners were Antonio Garrido (1994), Brian Huggett (1995), John Morgan (1996), David Huish (1998), Neil Coles (1999), Noel Ratcliffe (2001) and Oakley last year.

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
5DURNIAN, DenisENG18-10
T6TAPIE, AlanUSA18-4
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