Former Ryder Cup Captains Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam will resume their battle for European Senior Tour supremacy when the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open visits the Torrance designed Fairmont St Andrews for the first time this week.
Woosnam, the 2008 John Jacobs Trophy winner, is just €11,409 behind current Order of Merit leader Mark McNulty, with Torrance a further €2,977 back in third place but a win for either in Scotland would see them seize pole position.
Torrance will hope his extensive knowledge of the Torrance Course at Fairmont St Andrews, which bears his signature, will help him continue the strong home tradition in the Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open.
The 2002 Ryder Cup Captain’s victory in the 2006 Scottish Senior Open at Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club was the third time a Scotsman had won the event, following David Huish in 1998 and Bill Longmuir in 2004.
Last year he came close to becoming only the second player to win the event twice – following Tommy Horton’s victories in 1993 and 1997 – when he finished runner up to Englishman Peter Mitchell.
Torrance will be buoyed by his recent fine form, having finished third in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open a fortnight ago and fifth in The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard last month.
He said: “It’s always nice to go back to the Home of Golf and I’m looking forward to it. I fancy my chances.”
While Torrance is chasing his second Scottish Senior Open title, Woosnam is targeting a double of his own.
Having already added the Irish Seniors Open in association with Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank to his two Irish Opens, Woosnam will hope to add the Scottish Senior Open title to the three Scottish Opens he won on The European Tour – in 1987 and 1990 at Gleneagles and at Carnoustie in 1996.
Aside from Torrance, the Scottish challenge for the 17th edition of the event also includes John Chillas, Longmuir, Bill McColl and former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr, who is chasing his maiden European Senior Tour title having finished second on his debut in The De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship 12 months ago and tied fourth in the same event in June.
Compatriot Ross Drummond, currently 11th on the European Senior Tour Order of Merit, led the US Senior PGA Championship at the halfway stage in May and will hope to improve on his tied eighth place at last year’s Scottish Senior Open.
They will all hope to succeed defending champion Mitchell, whose two stroke victory over Torrance was his second of the 2008 season, with the Englishman adding his third the following week in the Lake Garda Italian Seniors Open.
Mitchell said: “I’m looking forward to defending. I don’t know what to expect this year as I’ve not played the golf course but it will be great to go back to the Home of Golf. Last year was a great win for me. My expectations were quite low going in but I managed to hold Sam off.
“In Scotland the crowds are always great and they are very knowledgeable. They are very keen about their golf.”
Also in the field alongside Longmuir, Mitchell and Torrance will be former champions Noel Ratcliffe (2000), Denis Durnian (2002), Terry Gale (2003), Nick Job (2005) and José Rivero (2007)
Embarking on his Senior Tour career this week will be four time European Tour winner Peter Senior who turned 50 on July 31. Senior is the third Australian to come of age this season following Mike Harwood and Peter Fowler.
While Senior is at the start of his career among the over 50s, Maurice Bembridge will set a new Senior Tour appearance record this week. The Englishman, who is Chairman of the European Senior Tour Committee, is playing in his 243rd tournament – eclipsing five time Order of Merit winner Tommy Horton’s record of 242.
The Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open is the first professional championship to be staged at Fairmont St Andrews following its £17million revamp.
It will be an Open Qualifying course when The Open Championship returns to the Home of Golf in 2010.
As well as a new host venue, the Scottish Senior Open has a new title sponsor for 2009 with leading golf manufacturer Srixon Sports Europe, which operates both the Cleveland & Srixon brands in the UK and Europe, strengthening its existing association with the European Senior Tour. Cleveland is already the Official Club of the Senior Tour and Srixon is the Official Ball Supplier to the Senior Tour.
The Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open rounds off another superb summer of golf in Scotland, backed by national events agency EventScotland, which has also included The 138th Open Championship at Turnberry and the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club.