Sunday, 21 May 2006

A strong contingent from the European Seniors Tour travels to the United States this week to contest the first Senior Major Championship of the season, the 67th US Senior PGA Championship, which starts on Thursday at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma.

A total of 25 members will tee up at the challenging Pete Dye-designed layout hoping to challenge for the oldest Major in over-50s golf.

Sam Torrance of Scotland, winner of the 2005 European Seniors Tour Order of Merit and one of eight former Ryder Cup Captains in the 156-man field, heads the traveling party across the Atlantic and is bullish about his chances of becoming the first European winner of the event.

He said: “I was entered into the BMW Championship at Wentworth, which is where I live, and I have played there for 35 years, but I chose to go the US PGA Seniors because I think I have a chance of winning that.”

The European Seniors Tour entrants hail from 11 different countries and will be largely responsible for the cosmopolitan feel to the action at Oak Tree.

England has the largest number of representatives outside the US and Japan with six - Gordon J Brand, Bob Cameron, Mark James, Nick Job, Carl Mason and David J Russell – with James a proven winner at this level following his triumph in the Ford Seniors Players’ Championship on the 2004 US Champions Tour.

John Chillas, Martin Gray, Bill Longmuir and Torrance comprise a strong Scottish vanguard, Mark McNulty and Des Smyth make up a powerful Irish pairing as do Hugh Baiocchi and John Bland for South Africa, Luis Carbonetti and Eduardo Romero for Argentina, and Terry Gale and Noel Ratcliffe for Australia.

Giuseppe Cali flies the flag for Italy and Bob Charles, one of 19 Major Champions in the field and a man who can boast victories in both the Open Championship and The Senior British Open Championship, carries the hopes for New Zealand.

Doug Johnson and Pete Oakley (United States), Tony Johnstone (Zimbabwe), José Rivero (Spain) and Katsuyoshi Tamori (Japan) complete the multi-national entry list from the European Seniors Tour.

America has provided the winner of the Championship in each of the 15 years since Gary Player’s third triumph in 1990, and another stellar home field will gather again this week spearheaded by Jay Haas, four-time winner Hale Irwin, Peter Jacobsen, Dana Quigley, Loren Roberts, Craig Stadler and Tom Watson, winner of last year’s Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management. The defending champion is Mike Reid, who defeated Jerry Pate and Quigley in a play-off at Laurel Valley last year.

Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: “I would like to thank the PGA of America for allowing as many European Seniors Tour members access to the tournament and we look forward to developing this healthy relationship in future years.”

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