Friday, 19 March 2010

Former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam will chase a PGA double this week when he headlines the field in the De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Slaley Hall.

The Welshman, who led Europe to a memorable victory at The K Club against the United States two years ago, twice won the PGA Championship at Wentworth Club during his regular career – in 1988 and 1997 – and is now seeking to add the Seniors' version to his trophy haul when he tees it up at the Northumberland resort.

"I'm really looking forward to playing in one of the flagship events of the European Seniors Tour and it always adds something special when you're competing with friends at a great venue," he said.

"I struggled with injury and illness earlier in the season but have overcome those and it's great to be winning again. Having been lucky enough to be a two-time winner of the PGA Championship, it would be fantastic to add the Senior equivalent to my CV."

Woosnam, a former World Number One and the 1991 Masters Tournament Champion, will go into the tournament as one of the hot favourites having taken the European Seniors Tour by storm in his debut season.

The 50 year old has wins in the Parkridge Polish Seniors Championship and the Russian Seniors Open under his belt already and he also finished second behind Peter Mitchell in the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open to currently lead the Order of Merit standings with €228,360.

His consistency was reflected in his last two Seniors tournament outings; a share of 23rd in the US Senior Open three weeks ago allied to a tie for 13th in The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard at Royal Troon last month.

But with rival Bernhard Langer hot on his heels in the Order of Merit and the duo due to go head-to-head in two weeks time in the inaugural Casa Serena Open in the Czech Republic, a victory on the Hunting Course at Slaley Hall – in a tournament carrying record prize money of £300,000 – could be decisive in helping him win the John Jacobs Trophy for the leading money winner.

Slaley Hall will also see Woosnam reunited with four of his Ryder Cup team-mates from Muirfield Village in 1987 - Gordon Brand Jnr – who will be making his European Seniors Tour debut –  Eamonn Darcy, José Rivero and Sam Torrance - a European Team that made history by becoming the first to beat the United States on American soil.

While the quartet will undoubtedly provide stiff opposition to his title hopes, the man Woosnam might ultimately have to be wary of is the rejuvenated Carl Mason.

The 55 year old Englishman won the PGA title last September at The Stoke by Nayland Club in Suffolk on the way to capturing the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit title for the third time in five seasons with record winnings of €412,376. But, by his own admission, his early season form in 2008 had been relatively muted.

But all that changed in spectacular fashion two weeks ago when he successfully defended his Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open crown in Switzerland – his 20th European Seniors Tour title success – to move into the top 15 on the Order of Merit. Now Mason is keen to successfully defend another title.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1BRAND JNR, GordonSCO184
T1BRAND, Gordon JENG184
T3QUIROS, JuanESP185
T3TORRANCE, SamSCO185
T3DARCY, EamonnIRL185
T6MURRAY, AndrewENG186
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