One of the strongest European Senior Tour challenges to cross the Atlantic will descend on Colorado Golf Club in Denver this week for the opening Senior Major Championship of 2010, the US Senior PGA Championship.
A total of 26 Senior Tour Members will attempt to dethrone American Michael Allen, who captured the title on his Senior debut at Canterbury Golf Club 12 months ago.
Included in the European contingent will be three former Ryder Cup Captains; Mark James, Bernhard Langer and Sam Torrance.
James finished as the leading European player last year in a share of ninth place and he will be hoping to add to his Ford Senior Players’ Championship victory of 2004 when he became the first European to win a Senior Major Championship.
Langer will also look to his previous form in the Championship for confidence having finished runner up to Jay Haas on his debut in 2008. The German has dominated Senior golf on the other side of the Atlantic since turning 50 three years ago, winning back-to-back Money Lists on the US Champions Tour, but is still searching for his maiden Senior Major Championship, having also finished tied fourth at last year’s Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard.
One place behind him at Sunningdale last July was Torrance, who went on to win the Senior Tour Order of Merit winner, and the 2002 Ryder Cup Captain will be eager to for a good performance in Denver to help his defence of that crown.
Leading the way this year is Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit, who has been in scintillating form on the Senior Tour, winning three consecutive events in Brunei, Thailand and South Africa and finishing runner up with Chapman to Bill Longmuir a fortnight ago in the Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum.
Ruangkit won the US Champions Tour Qualifying School in 2006 and has twice played in the US Senior PGA Championship but will feel more confident about his chances this time round given his performances over the past three months.
Likewise Longmuir, of Scotland, will head to America buoyed by his commanding seven stroke victory which secured his eighth Senior Tour title and a place in the field in Colorado.
“With the form I have now I’m looking forward to it,” said Longmuir. “I feel much better about my game and I love playing in the United States.
“That was the added bonus of winning the last event. I just pipped poor old Bobby Lincoln. I had a bad year last year on the Order of Merit (he finished 30th) and didn’t qualifying. I didn’t ask for an invite so it was nice to do it the proper way.”
Longmuir’s compatriot Andrew Oldcorn, who made his Senior Tour debut at Stapleford Park, plays in his first Senior Major Championship, as does South African David Frost.
The Championship will bring back some happy memories for Scotland’s Ross Drummond, who led at the halfway stage last year before finishing tied 37th, and Englishman Chapman, who marked his Senior Major Championship debut with a hole in one.
Among those hoping to deny the European continent a victory will be Tom Waton, the eight time Major Champion and five time Senior Major Champion who finished runner up in last year’s Open Championship.
Also among the favourites will be Watson’s fellow American Fred Couples who has won three times in six appearances on the US Champions Tour since turning 50, as well as finishing sixth in the Masters Tournament.
It is the first time that the 7,490 yard par 72 Colorado Golf Club, which was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, has hosted a US Senior PGA Championship.