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Monday, 07 August 2006

There are few better places than the beautiful spa resort of Bad Ragaz for making a person feel younger. Just ask Terry Gale, who this week returns to Switzerland to defend the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open he won in memorable fashion last year.

Gale’s two stroke success at Golf Club Bad Ragaz extended his record of consecutive winning years on the European Seniors Tour to four, the longest current streak of any player, but more importantly it proved to him that he remained competitive despite his age.

Having recently turned 60, Gale will launch the defence of his title in good heart after a fine showing at last week’s Wentworth Senior Masters where he finished in a tie for fourth place, and the popular Australian is hoping the recuperative waters and clean air of Bad Ragaz will have the same invigorating effect as in 2005. 

“I turned 59 not long before last year’s event and to be honest I was struggling a bit with my form. At the time there was a shadow of doubt in my mind about my ability to compete at that age, so to win in Switzerland was especially important,” explained Gale, who carded rounds of 67, 66 and 66 for an 11 under par total of 199.

This week’s field, which will be playing for a prize fund of €210,000, is strengthened by four notable additions: former Open and Senior British Open champion Bob Charles of New Zealand; Australian Stewart Ginn who tied 11th at Wentworth Club on Sunday; former PGA Championship winner Tony Johnstone of Zimbabwe who finished in a tie for seventh; and Spanish former Ryder Cup player José Rivero, winner of two events already this season.

Chilean Guillermo Encina and Italian Giuseppe Cali are two more 2006 winners who will make the trip to the Swiss Alps along with the Carbonetti brothers from Argentina, both of whom have played key roles in this event over recent years.

The elder of the two, Horacio, won the tournament in 2003 and 2004 while Luis finished tied second with Frenchman Gery Watine last year and fifth in 2004.

Horacio has thrived on a course where distance is not everything, due to the ball travelling further in the crisp Alpine air, and the man from Rio Cuarto geared up for one of his favourite events with an excellent share of second place with Sam Torrance behind Eduardo Romero at the Wentworth Senior Masters.

In 2004, he finished eagle, birdie, birdie to take England’s Denis Durnian into a play-off, which he won on the first extra hole by making a par.

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