Ian Woosnam has targeted a popular home victory in the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open to help showcase his country’s build up to The 2010 Ryder Cup.
The 1991 Masters Tournament winner believes the European Senior Tour event at Royal Porthcawl is an important part of golf’s development in Wales ahead of golf’s most prestigious team competition being played at The Celtic Manor Resort, in Newport, next October.
Having captured the Irish Seniors Open in association with Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank at Ballybunion a fortnight ago, 2006 Ryder Cup winning Captain Woosnam is keen to show off one of the fine links courses in his own country.
He is also keen to improve on his second place behind Peter Mitchell in last year’s Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club and help strengthen his defence of the Senior Tour Order of Merit.
“This event shows the world what sort of golf courses we have in Wales,” said the former World Number One. “We obviously have Conwy up in the north, where we played last year, and Porthcawl down here but we have a lot more golf courses across the country and some splendid sea links in mid-Wales so it is interesting to go to different places.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people recently who are putting Wales on their rota. The more we keep pushing it the bigger it is going to get. Everybody loves seeing the Senior Tour come to play. There’s a lot of people who have grown up watching us play and it’s a nice week for everyone involved.
“I would like to win in Wales. I won in Ireland a couple of weeks ago but I’m not too confident. My game can change though – it is like that. I can be playing badly one minute then great the next.
“I’m sure we will have great crowds. It’s easy to get to, just off the motorway, so I’m sure we will see a lot of people.”
“Hopefully the weather will be kind to us and we can get the people to come out and watch. Someone played on Tuesday and said it was very bouncy – a true links golf course. The rain softened it up a little bit yesterday but if the sun comes out and dries it we will have proper links golf so I’m looking forward to that.
“At the moment I’m not hitting the driver so straight so with it being dry and bouncy I get away with the odd shot a little bit. That’s what happened in Ballybunion a couple of weeks ago. It’s not all about hitting the driver it is about getting into position when it is like this and keeping it under control. I do enjoy it – I think a little bit more than I used to as a youngster and I’m a little bit more patient – only a little!
With a prize fund of £500,000 on offer, the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open is pivotal in the Senior Tour Order of Merit race, with Woosnam currently second behind leader Mark James.
However Woosnam will face some stiff competition for the £75,000 first prize from defending champion Mitchell, and former Ryder Cup players Gordon J Brand, Costantino Rocca and Sam Torrance.
Des Smyth and Gordon Brand Jnr also return to Royal Porthcawl where they won the Welsh Golf Classic on The European Tour in 1981 and 1982 respectively.