When Terry Gale returned to Bad Ragaz in Switzerland 12 months ago to compete in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, he admitted he was shocked by what greeted him in the Alpine town and resort.
Having won there by two shots in 2005, after shooting scores of 67, 66, 66 for an 11 under par total, the Australian was keen to get back to the beautiful surroundings of his seventh European Seniors Tour victory. There was a surprise in store.
“I went there as the defending champion and I couldn’t believe it – there were pictures of me everywhere; on adverts, billboards, in toilets, in supermarkets. If my mates back home in Oz had seen it I’d have been in for a hell of a lot of stick,” laughed the man from Perth as he recalled his 2006 return. “At least I won’t have to see all that this time round – Juan will have that to deal with instead.”
Spain’s Juan Quiros dethroned Gale in 2006, when he collected his maiden European Seniors Tour title on only his seventh start, closing with a 65 for a 14 under par winning total to beat England’s Carl Mason by two shots.
Now, as defending champion Quiros and the best of Europe’s senior golfing talent prepare to return to Golf Club Bad Ragaz for the 2007 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, Gale expects a similarly low 54-hole total to be the winning score.
Gale said: “If you’re not having a good week there, you may as well not go, because you’ve got to be about ten under par to have a chance. But it’s a great course to play. It’s so beautiful, up there in The Alps. All of the players enjoy going there.”
Gale is hoping he can build on the form he showed at the Wentworth Seniors Masters – he shot 69, 75, 76 for a tied 18th place finish – in Switzerland.
He said: “I haven’t been playing very well lately, or doing anything all that flash, but I have a good record at Wentworth, and it gives me a better feeling. Any time you return to a course you like and play well is good – I hope going to Bad Ragaz will do the same for me. I’ve won there, so it’s one of my favourites.”
Gale earned €4,662 for his three days work over the Edinburgh Course at Wentworth, taking his earnings from eight events in 2007 to €26,366. It means Gale has earned €985,550 in his 11 years on the European Seniors Tour – and is very close to a rare feat.
“I’m chasing passing that million Euros – but I don’t know if it’s going to beat me or I’m going to beat it,” joked the 61 year old, who can pass that considerable milestone at Bad Ragaz if he finishes inside the top two.
Bob Charles, who beat his age by a stroke when he shot a final round 70 at the Wentworth Senior Masters, to finish on four under par and in second place, is another teeing up in Switzerland.
Other players entered for the tournament include double Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open winner Horacio Carbonetti, who triumphed in 2003 and 2004, plus Australia’s Stewart Ginn, recent runner-up at The Senior Open Championship presented by Aberdeen Asset Management, at Muirfield, Italy’s Costantino Rocca and local favourite Maurice Bembridge, who lives in St Gallen, Switzerland and is attached to the Grand Hotels Bad Ragaz Health Spa and Golf Resort. The tournament carries a prize fund of €210,000.
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