Thursday, 17 June 2004
Jim Rhodes, who ended an eight-year wait for his maiden European Seniors Tour stroke play title last Sunday in Jersey, is looking to make it a double in The Mobile Cup that starts Friday at The Oxfordshire Golf Club, near Thame, England.

This will be the first tournament of the season on the British mainland and the 58 year old Englishman convinced he can come up trumps again.

"I feel very confident after winning in Jersey and I think I can do it again this week," he says. "I like The Oxfordshire course although there are a lot of tough holes out there, but to win again would be the icing on the cake."

Although Rhodes won the Seniors Match Play title in Portugal in 2001, he didn’t feel he’d arrived in the seniors game until he’d won what he calls ‘a regular event‘.

"Last week’s win was so important to me," he adds. "At the end of the day beating half a dozen players head to head is all very well but until you’ve won a stroke play tournament you can’t say you’ve arrived on Tour. Now I've done what I wanted to do.

"Strangely, the win was unexpected because I putted so badly the previous week in Ireland on what was my style of course. I putted like a 16 handicapper and got so frustrated it went through the rest of my game.

"So when I got back home I went through my collection of around a dozen putters, took them to South Staffs where I practice and the one that felt best was one of the original Ping putters I’ve had since 1966.

"I took it to Jersey and it worked a treat. I think I used it to win the match play and I’ve kept it in my bag this week - along with a spare," he revealed.

The biggest threat to a second Rhodes success is likely to come from defending champion Carl Mason, fresh from taking a week off and missing the Jersey event.

The Mobile Cup represented his maiden Seniors victory a year ago at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire and it sparked a run that saw him collect three more wins in 2003 to win the Order of Merit and he’s been in the same rich vein of form this year.

Mason, who turns 51 next week, has already extended victory tally to six with the Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic and the AIB Irish Seniors Open this season and would be a short odds bet to make it a magnificent seven come Sunday.

However, Australia’s Terry Gale, winner of the Bosch Italian Seniors Open last month and second to Mason in the current Order of Merit, is taking a week off, as is Nick Job, who ran Mason close in Ireland two weeks ago.

The Mobile Cup is one of the Seniors Tour’s newest events. It was inaugurated two years ago at Stoke Park when former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher collected his first seniors success to be succeeded by Mason last June.

The total prize money available this week is £125,000 with £19,385 going to the winner.

"It promises to be a superb tournament and we are indebted to the support of the mobile phone industry for creating this unique event," says Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour. "We are also extremely grateful to the promoter Hugh Roberts of Sweetspot and to Paul Gibbons and The Leaderboard Group, the owners’ of The Oxfordshire Golf Club, for providing us with a golf course of the highest calibre."

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