Scotland’s Sam Torrance can add another notable achievement to his distinguished career should he win the PGA Seniors Championship at The Stoke by Nayland Golf Club for the third consecutive year and become only the third man in the tournament's history to do so.
The 50 year old tournament, which this year carries a prize fund of £200,000, gets underway in Suffolk and Torrance, winner in 2005 at De Vere Carden Park in Chester and in 2006 at The Stoke by Nayland Golf Club, will attempt to join Ireland’s Christy O’Connor (1981-1982-1983) and England’s Neil Coles (1985-1986-1987) as the only other triple winner of the PGA Seniors Championship.
“It is a good incentive to have,” said Torrance, who has won once in 2007, when he captured the Bendinat London Seniors Masters in June. “The PGA Seniors Championship is one of the most important events of the year for me. It’s a flagship tournament and having won it the past two years, I’ll be looking to make it three in a row.”
Last year, Torrance carded an outstanding final round of six under par 66 to win by three clear strokes from Argentina’s Luis Carbonetti.
The 2002 European Ryder Cup Captain started the final day three shots adrift of Italy’s Giuseppe Cali, in a share of second spot with Carbonetti, but gradually wore the Italian down, despite two suspensions due to lightning storms, to finish with a winning 72 hole aggregate of 20 under par 268.
Australia’s Stewart Ginn, who makes his debut this week, is another player keen to try and secure the prestigious title that was first won in 1957 – exactly half a century ago.
Runner-up in four European Seniors Tour events in the past 12 months, including The Senior Open Championship at Muirfield, the 58 year old hopes to make a winning breakthrough at Stoke by Nayland.
“The Majors and big titles like the PGA Championships are the ones all the players respect and would like to win. If you’ve managed to win one of them, then it’s a great achievement. Of course, I’d be very happy if I managed to knock one over and win,” he said. “It’ll be my first time playing in the event, so I’m looking forward to it.”
European Seniors Tour history could also be made by Denis Watson if the Zimbabwean captures the title.
The 51 year old is enjoying a renaissance in 2007, after once fearing he would never play golf again due to injury, and in May won his first Senior Major – the US Senior PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina.
The talented Zimbabwean, who lives in California, held off Argentina’s Eduardo Romero to win his maiden Senior Major after a titanic final day tussle.
The turning point came when Romero double-bogeyed the 14th at Kiawah Island, while Watson birdied it for a three stroke swing that ended Romero’s chance of back-to-back Senior Major titles.
Watson eventually won by two shots, with a nine under par 279 total, to claim his first Tour title for almost 23 years.
Watson secured three victories on the 1984 US PGA Tour but then sustained serious injuries after striking a hidden tree stump while playing in the 1985 Goodyear Classic at Port Elizabeth. That incident resulted in him requiring a series of wrist, neck and shoulder operations – putting his career in serious jeopardy.
“I didn’t play a decent round of golf for a long time after that,” he said. “I had a lot of surgeries and a lot of rehab but it wasn’t until recently that I began to feel healthy and believe in my ability again. That is why the win meant so much to me – it has been a long time in coming.”
Watson’s victory at Kiawah Island means he will head to Suffolk chasing a unique PGA double, and he said: “I will be aiming to win my first European Seniors Tour title at Stoke by Nayland.”
The Stoke by Nayland Golf Club boasts two championship courses – the Constable and Gainsborough – and is located in 350 acres of rolling hills, woodlands and lakes, on the edge of the Dedham Vale. The 2007 PGA Seniors Championship will be played over 72 holes on the Gainsborough Course.