José Rivero is hopeful of a belated birthday celebration this week when he attempts to become the first player to successfully defend the Scottish Seniors Open title on the European Seniors Tour.
The Spaniard, who played in Europe’s winning Ryder Cup Teams of 1985 and 1987, turned 53 last Saturday and would love nothing better than to gift himself the lion’s share of the £225,000 prize fund on offer at the Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Rivero certainly knows what it takes to triumph at the Scottish venue having done just that 12 months ago, withstanding a late challenge from the host nation’s Ross Drummond before securing a one hole victory.
But he will have to be at his best to see off a strong field which has assembled at the venue which has played host to a number of top events over the years, including the 1992 Solheim Cup contest where Europe’s women professionals memorably defeated their American counterparts 11 ½ - 6 ½.
Drummond went close last year, but the tournament has not been without home grown success over the years: Sam Torrance winning at Dalmahoy in 2006, Bill Longmuir triumphing at The Roxburghe two years before that, and David Huish coming out on top at Dalmahoy in 1998.
The above trio return to action once again this year and form part of a healthy host nation representation which also includes players such as Gordon Brand Jnr, John Chillas, Martin Gray, Bill Lockie, Brian Marchbank, Steve Martin, Bill McColl, Mike Miller.
The Scottish contingent will, understandably, receive the bulk of the backing from the large crowds expected at the Edinburgh venue over the three days of competition, which will continue the support for Seniors Tour golf seen in Scotland in July when a record attendance enjoyed The Senior Open Championship, presented by MasterCard at Royal Troon.
Outside the Scottish contingent, other players to take the eye include Ireland’s Des Smyth, Italy’s Costantino Rocca and the English duo of Carl Mason and Gordon J Brand.
Brand is already a two time winner on the 2008 European Tour season – having enjoyed back to back successes in The De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship and the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters last month – and, currently third on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit, has the chance to make up ground on the leading duo, Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer who are not in the field.
Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: “Playing tournament golf in Scotland, in front of the knowledgeable galleries, is always special and we are looking forward to another excellent week this week.
“Our thanks go to the Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club for being wonderful hosts once again and we also pay tribute to EventScotland for their superb support and commitment both to this event and to the European Seniors Tour as a whole.”