Tuesday, 11 May 2004
A unique father and son scenario was created in professional golf at the weekend when Pip Elson teed off in the Open de France Seniors.

It was the Englishman’s debut on the European Seniors Tour and meant that he began his rookie year on tour in tandem with his highly rated son Jamie, who is in his maiden season on The European Tour.

Pip turned 50 in April allowing him to restart his competitive career 22 years after leaving the regular tour, where he claimed the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award in 1973.

He finished equal 33rd in France at Omaha Beach Golf Club and while Jamie missed the cut in the Daily Telegraph Damovo British Masters at the Marriot Forest of Arden to put a dent in his chances of matching his father’s rookie honours it promises to be a special year for the Elsons.

“It’s been a funny week because I have been quite apprehensive as I have not played at this level for over 20 years. Although I have kept playing and competed in one day events and company things, I have not played tournament golf. I have been working hard on my game but you never know until you get into battle,” said Elson senior.

He fired a pleasing level par 72 on the opening day, but slumped to an 80 in the second round before closing with 71.

“When I got on the first tee on Friday I was much calmer than I thought I was going to be and I played okay but I got on the bogey train in the second round and could not get off. The weather made things very tough but it was not 80 tough,” said Elson.

The Englishman plans to play most of the remaining events this year on the Seniors Tour, which boasts 21 tournaments.

“Originally I said I would take it up to the Open Championship and see how I had done. I have enjoyed it but it has been hard work, it has been tough. On Friday I was really surprised how I slotted in but it did not half hit me in the second round,” he added.

Elson played on The European Tour for ten years and although he did not win he performed well. His best finish was joint third in the Sunbeam Electric Scottish Open in his first year.

“I did okay but had not set the world on fire. The thing that made me decide to stop was the fact that when I stood on the first tee I could not win. I knew that if I played really well I could beat some of the good players some weeks but I knew if they played well I was never going to beat them. I did not really feel that I wanted to play and make the numbers up,” said Elson.

Elson junior is mid-way through his rookie season and experiencing all the emotions that his father felt in 1973.

He is currently in 148th position on the Volvo Order of Merit, with his highest finish coming in the Madeira Island Open where he tied for 25th. Keeping his card is priority which is something he is more than capable of judging by his outstanding record in the game at such a young age.

The 22 year old was a member of the Great Britain and Ireland team that won the Walker Cup in 2001. He turned professional last year and quickly found his feet in the paid ranks by claiming his maiden title in his third start on the Challenge Tour at the Volvo Finnish Open. He added another six top ten finishes to finish tenth on the Challenge Tour ranking and earn his card for the regular tour.

“He (Jamie) has done exceptionally well. He is in a bit of a trough at the moment but it is all peaks and troughs. He had a wonderful year last year. He was 57 under par for his first three tournament on the Challenge Tour,” said Elson.

The Elsons practiced together last week at the Marriot Forest of Arden before Pip departed for France.

Said Elson senior: “It is all a learning curve. It does not just happen. It does for some players but not very many. Jamie and I help each other with our games and tweak each others swings. We hit balls from time to time. He is a good player but it’s the whole thing he has to learn. It is the travel, the culture, the food, the courses, the playing conditions and the guys he is playing against have played year in year out so it is a hell of an advantage.”

Elson thought his son had got his game back on track last week when they amended his grip.

“He’d got his grip a little bit weak and he was blocking a few long shots. I thought he’d got it back in the groove again but when you change something and then try and play with it in the heat of battle it is always difficult,” said Elson.

Pip Elson returns to the battlefield at this week’s inaugural Italian Seniors Open in Venice.

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