Former World Number One Ian Woosnam has fired an ominous warning to his rivals on the European Senior Tour, saying his form is returning on the eve of this week’s Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Fourm.
The 2006 Ryder Cup Captain had a quiet 2010 campaign by his own high standard, finishing 28th on the Order of Merit, but after spending the winter working on his swing and playing social golf at his home in Barbados, the Welshman is raring to go again.
Woosnam, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on Wednesday, finished tied fifth on his last appearance in the Handa Cup Senior Masters, firing a superb final round 63.
After playing in the Pro-Am at the Empire Hotel and Country Club in Brunei, he expects similar low scoring this week as he attempts to win his first Senior Tour title since the 2008 Irish Seniors Open.
“I’m feeling better than last year because I was trying to change my swing,” he said. “I’ve been playing more golf in Barbados this year, and I’ve been playing well but playing in a tournament, with a scorecard, is a little different from playing matches with your friends.
“The course was very good in the Pro-Am, it was quite soft and I think it’s going to play well. I’m expecting the scoring to be very low, with plenty of birdies to be made.
“I’ve been playing social golf in Barbados about five times per week – I’ve never played so much golf. The weather here is quite similar to Barbados – both are very hot but it is a bit more humid here – so I’m reasonably confident of doing quite well.”
Woosnam will tee it up in the first round alongside Barry Lane, winner of last year’s Cleveland Golf/Srixon Scottish Senior Open, and Boonchu Ruangkit, the reigning Senior Tour Order of Merit champion and the defending champion.
Ruangkit defeated Frankie Minoza in a play-off 12 months ago to capture his maiden Senior Tour title and first of three consecutive victories. The Thai feels retaining the title, and the lion’s share of the US$320,000 purse, will prove an even more difficult task
“I’m not hugely confident as there are many new pros on the Tour this year,” he said. “They are strong and have a good chance to win. In myself I feel confident but I am worried about the competition.
“I think Chris Williams is one to watch this week. He has a good golf game and he’s played over here a lot so he knows the course well.”
While Ruangkit may not be overly optimistic about his own chances, 2002 Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance feels the player who succeeded him as Order of Merit remains the man to beat.
“I’m looking forward to playing in my first event of the year,” said Torrance. “I’m pleased about coming back to Brunei. I’m not feeling confident about winning – I’ve no idea about my form and I’ve woken up with a stiff neck today due to air conditioning so didn’t play in the Pro-Am.
“Hopefully I will be better tomorrow. Boonchu is the big favourite to win, and the winner will have to play very good golf. As well as Boonchu, Carl Mason in with a very good chance too but the weather will affect the Europeans, so it’s difficult for us.”
“I haven’t played for three months so I’ve no form. I’ve been playing at home but I’ve no tournament form.”