England’s David J Russell makes his debut on the European Seniors Tour this week at the Open de France Seniors.
Russell, better known as “DJ”, turned 50 last Sunday and wasted no time in heading to his first Seniors Tour event which tees off at Omaha Beach Golf Club.
Also making his maiden appearance on the circuit is Englishman Pip Elson, whose son Jamie Elson is currently in his rookie season on The European Tour.
The Open de France Seniors marks the first Seniors Tour event of the season in Europe and the tournament is also part of celebrations which are taking place to help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the historic “D-Day” landings.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to have a new career and be back competing in golf which is what I enjoy the most,” said Russell.
Russell won twice on The European Tour in the 1985 Car Care Plan International and the 1992 Open de Lyon Trophee V33. The Englishman, who suffered from ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) for four years from 1987, stopped playing on Tour in 1996 mainly because he was tired of traveling.
“The only thing that changed towards the end of my career on the main tour was that I did not hole as many putts as when I was younger. The great thing about playing on the Seniors Tour is that you are playing against people of equal eye sight,” added Russell.
After leaving The European Tour he spent six years as a club professional at Kedleston Park in Derby while over the past few years he has focused on his golf course design project at Archerfield in Scotland. He has designed two links courses there, the first of which was opened last Saturday.
Like Russell, Elson is also excited to be making his Seniors debut. “I am really looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity to play competitive golf again as such a high level,” said Elson, who stopped playing on Tour in 1982.
Elson won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award in 1973, which is a feat that son Jamie is attempting to achieve this year. Jamie is one of the bright prospects of English golf and played in the Great Britain and Ireland team that won the Walker Cup in 2001.
England’s Carl Mason who won the season opening Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic and South African Gavan Levenson, winner of the following week’s DGM Barbados Open, are the in-form players heading into France.
Mason’s victory was his fourth successive win as he won his final three events of 2003 to claim the Order of Merit title. The Englishman finished joint second in Barbados and leads the Merit list with earnings of €44,159 (£29,654).
Levenson, in his rookie year on the circuit, is in second position on the Merit list with winnings of the €30,500 (£20,469).
Also competing in France are Japan’s Seiji Ebihara, winner of the Order of Merit title in 2002, and Scotland’s Bill Longmuir.