Tuesday, 29 July 2003
Japan's Seiji Ebihara returns to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs when he tees up in the prestigious De Vere PGA Seniors Championship, to be staged over the Nicklaus course at De Vere Carden Park.

The Japanese golfer is joined by a strong field that includes the 2002 Senior British Open champion Noboru Sugai, an impressive contingent of European Seniors Tour stars, plus the leading club professionals from all over the British Isles.

Ebihara was in sparkling form when he recorded his third victory of the season in last year's championship. He posted a new Seniors Tour under par record, finishing on 21 under par 267, and also beat, by one shot, the previous record for the biggest margin of victory, finishing no less that ten shots ahead of Americans, George Burns and Steve Stull.

For good measure, Ebihara also shaved one shot off the championship record, set by 1960 Open Golf Champion, Kel Nagle, who recorded a score of 268 while winning at Longniddry in 1975. Incredibly, the winner played his last 57 holes without dropping a single shot, no mean feat in cold, wet and windy conditions.

This time round, Ebihara's biggest challenge might well come from compatriot, Sugai, who produced the performance of his life, from the starting position of a 100/1 outsider to win the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard, at Royal County Down last July.

Sugai is by no means the only in-form golfer to tee up in what is the 47th De Vere PGA Championship, stretching back to 1957.

During that time Neil Coles, Max Faulkner, Tommy Horton, Brian Huggett, Kel Nagle, Christy O'Connor Snr, Peter Thomson and a host of other celebrated golfers have won the title and they could well be joined by either Bill Longmuir or Carl Mason, both of whom have made a big impact since joining the Seniors ranks earlier this season.

Longmuir was the first to shine, winning the lucrative Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David's and Mason joined him in the winner's circle one week later, capturing The Mobile Cup at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire.

Longmuir and Mason are two of eight 2003 Seniors Tour winners to tee up at De Vere Carden Park. Also present are Ray Carrasco (winner of the Digicel Jamaica Classic, in association with Sony Ericsson), Noel Ratcliffe (AIB Irish Seniors Open), Malcolm Gregson (Irvine Whitclock Jersey Seniors Masters), Hank Woodrome (Wallonia Open), Jerry Bruner (De Vere Northumberland Seniors Classic) plus Australia's Terry Gale, who started the season in style capturing both the Royal Westmoreland Barbados Open and the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic.

Gale, the winner of the title at The De Vere Belfry in 1996, is one of seven former champions in this year's field, the others being Ebihara, John Morgan (1994), Tommy Horton ('92 and '98), Ross Metherell ('99), John Grace (2000), and Ian Stanley ('01).

This year's Championship is the third to be staged over the superb Nicklaus course at De Vere Carden Park. Twelve months before Ebihara won, Australia's Ian Stanley emerged victorious, emulating Neil Coles as the only golfer to win the Senior British Open and the PGA Seniors Championship in the same season.

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