Sam Torrance makes his first European Seniors Tour appearance south of the border when he tees up in this week's Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters over the famous Duke's Course at Woburn Golf & Country Club.
The Scottish former Ryder Cup Captain made his Seniors Tour debut last week, finishing tied 15th at the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe, and now hopes to make an even greater impact on his emotional return to a course where he has enjoyed considerable success.
"The Duke's is a course I like a lot," said Torrance. "I think I am right in saying that I played in all 14 British Masters staged there and I always seemed to be featuring on the leaderboard so it was a bit ironic that it was the year that they moved the Masters to Collingtree (1995) that I actually won the tournament."
Torrance admitted that he was somewhat dissatisfied with his debut in the Borders and is determined to make amends on his second appearance in the Seniors ranks.
"I had a great time last week," he said. "It was great to see so many old mates although I have got to admit I was far from happy about my finish. The funny thing is I didn't play all that badly. But my putting was horrible, especially in the last round. I'd like to think I can do a lot better this time."
Torrance's presence at Woburn adds a new element to a tournament that in two short years has been feted as one of the most prestigious on the Seniors Tour schedule.
Since its inauguration back in 2001 the tournament has be fortunate to enjoy two dramatic finales.
Australia's Bob Shearer won his first European Seniors Tour title since the 1999 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open when he closed with a five under par 67 to win the inaugural title. Twelve months later Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge won for the second time during the 2002 season when he closed with a four under par 68 to finish two shots ahead of Ireland's Eamonn Darcy and Japan's Seiji Ebihara.
Torrance will undoubtedly start as favourite but he will face a rigorous challenge from a strong field that includes two other rookies who have taken the Seniors Tour by storm since turning 50 earlier this summer.
Bill Longmuir made his debut at the Irvine Whitlock Jersey Seniors Masters and since then he has won twice at The Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open and the De Vere PGA Championship. The Scot has also posted two further top ten finishes which means that he arrives at Woburn in second place on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit with earnings totalling €200,967.
The only man to go into the Bovis Lend Lease event ahead of Longmuir is England's Carl Mason who has been a revelation since making his first start in Wales. The former European Tour player finished sixth on his debut and he has since won The Mobile Cup and narrowly lost out to Tom Watson in a sudden-death play-off for the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard at the Westin Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire, Scotland. Altogether, Mason has amassed six top-ten finishes in his first seven starts as a Senior, accumulating a massive €253,919 in the process.
Augmenting the field are eight other winners from the 2003 season, namely Jerry Bruner, John Chillas, Ray Carrasco, Terry Gale, Malcolm Gregson, Mike Miller, Noel Ratcliffe and Hank Woodrome. Among those, Gale, stands out after winning last week's event in Scotland to become just the sixth man to win three times in a single season on the Seniors Tour, following in the footsteps of Tommy Horton (1993, '96, '97 and '98), John Morgan (1994), John Grace (2000), Delroy Cambridge (2002) and Seiji Ebihara (2003). Chillas is also on a fine run, having won once, at the Travis Perkins Senior Masters, finished second twice, and registered eight top-ten finishes in 15 starts this season.
While watching the leading Seniors Tour players, spectators at the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters can also try their hand at reproducing the shots produced by their heroes thanks to the Srixon Simulator which will be on site from Friday September 5 to Sunday September 7. It can be sampled at the cost of a £1 charitable donation.
The Duke's course is one of Europe's leading venues, having hosted the British Masters 14 times between 1979 and 2000 before the tournament moved to the new Marquess course in 2001 and 2002.
John Spanswick, Chief Executive Officer of Bovis Lend Lease said: "On behalf of Bovis Lend Lease, I am delighted to see the continued development of the European Seniors Tour. We are especially pleased that Sam Torrance will be participating in the third Bovis Lend Lease European Masters at the Woburn Golf & Country Club. The strength of the European Tour is demonstrated by Sam Torrance's decision to join the Tour."
Eddie Bullock, Managing Director of Woburn Golf and Country Club, said: "Woburn Golf & Country Club looks forward to welcoming all competitors to this year's Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters. The delights of the Duke's course will provide a wonderful experience for players and spectators alike."
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: "We are delighted Sam has chosen the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters to make his first Senior appearance in England. The addition of the former Ryder Cup captain to an already star-studded field should ensure bumper crowds for an event which is growing in stature every year.
"We would like to thank Bovis Lend Lease for their continued support and commitment as title sponsors. We can look forward to another enthralling event at Woburn Golf and Country Club, working with Eddie Bullock and his team at one of the finest venues on the European Seniors Tour."