Simon Owen returns to the scene of his first European Seniors Tour triumph when he tees up in this week's Tunisian Seniors Open at El Kantaoui Golf Club.
The New Zealander is joined by England’s Denis Durnian and new Daily Telegraph/Sodexho Seniors Match Play Champion Delroy Cambridge, who currently hold the second and third places respectively on the Order of Merit heading into the penultimate event of the 2002 season.
Twelve months ago, Owen won for the first time on the Seniors Tour when he closed with a fine six under par 66 and then defeated America's Bob Lendzion on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off.
The Kiwi, who is best remembered for finishing second behind Jack Nicklaus at the 1978 Open Golf Championship at St Andrews, started the final round six shots behind his American rival but made up that ground with a total of nine birdies, including six in a row from the eighth hole.
He finished the regulation 54 holes tied with Lendzion on eight under par 208 and then won the title outright when he hit a drive and a marvellous sand wedge to three feet for a winning birdie three on the second extra hole.
Since then, Owen, winner of the 1974 German Open, has struggled to regain winning form. However, the same cannot be said for Cambridge and Durnian, two of the seven 2002 winners in this week's field.
Durnian comes into the event with the reputation of being the most consistent performer on this season's Seniors Tour. To date, he has won once, at the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe, and notched no less than eight other top ten finishes in just 16 starts. At last week's Daily Telegraph /Sodexho Seniors Match Play Championship he also performed well, reaching the quarter finals to consolidate second place behind the absent Seiji Ebihara on the Order of Merit.
Cambridge goes into the Tunisian event only €32,462 behind Durnian on the money list but the Jamaican shares with Ebihara the distinction of being one of only two multiple winners on this season's Seniors Tour.
Cambridge won for the first time when he defeated Englishmen, Tommy Horton and Ian Mosey, at the Microlease Jersey Seniors Masters at La Moye GC. He added his second title of the season when he held off Ebihara and Eamonn Darcy at the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters at Woburn G & CC and added the third last week when he beat Eddie Polland in the final of The Daily Telegraph/Sodexho Seniors Match Play Championship.
Durnian and Cambridge will start the Tunisian event amongst the favourites but they are not the only golfers in this week's field to have won on the Seniors Tour this season.
The field also includes England's Peter Townsend, who captured the Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open and America's Steve Stull, the winner of the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic. Gary Wintz, the champion at Flanders Nippon presents Legends in Golf, Bernard Gallacher, winner of The Mobile Cup, and Ray Carrasco, champion at the Travis Perkins Senior Masters are also present, all hoping to emulate Ebihara and Cambridge and become repeat winners on the 2002 Tour.
Spain's Manuel Pinero, making just his third start since reaching the age of 50 at the start of September, could also be a threat. He was hugely impressive, going 54 holes without dropping a shot, while finishing tied third on his debut at the GIN Monte Carlo Invitational. Subsequently, he also showed admirable resolve, recovering from a poor first round to finish tied for 18th at the Bovis Lend Lease European Seniors Masters at Woburn GC.