Ian Woosnam is predicting great friend and rival Sandy Lyle will be a serious threat in next month’s De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall.
The two former Major champions are among the cream of European Senior Tour golfers in action at the £250,000 tournament, which is being contested over the Dave Thomas-designed Hunting Course from June 9-12 and which again has free entry for spectators.
Lyle is currently the man to beat, as he tops the European Senior Tour Order of Merit after securing his first professional win in 19 years at the recent ISPS Handa Senior World Championship presented by Mission Hills, in China.
It was a welcome return to form for the popular Scot, who in his heyday lifted both The Open Championship and the Masters Tournament. His victory in China leaves Lyle in a position to emulate Woosnam by winning both The European Tour and Senior Tour money lists.
Woosnam admits he was delighted to see his old friend rediscovering his winning touch, and expects his fellow Green Jacket holder to figure among the challengers at Slaley Hall, following his debut in the event 12 months ago.
“Now that Sandy has the renewed confidence in his game, he’s realised he doesn’t need to make any adjustment in his swing and he’ll be a big threat at Slaley Hall,” said Woosnam.
“He’s always been a great competitor, whose standard of golf was a big influence on me whilst I was growing up – and still is now.”
The pair finished in a share of 12th last year behind DJ Russell, another of Woosnam’s good friends, who tasted his first Senior Tour victory after nine runner-up spots.
“It was an unbelievable moment for DJ to get his first Senior Tour win, and I was very pleased and excited for him,” added Woosnam.
“For me, his success has inspired me to go for my goal of winning a Senior Major.
“At the moment, after a swing change last year, I feel my game is going in the right direction. We’ll just have to see what happens in the months to come.”
Slaley Hall will be hosting the event for the fourth successive year, and Woosnam has identified three key holes as pivotal to victory in the 72-hole event, which is the Senior Tour’s longest-running tournament, dating back to 1957.
“I think that one of the keys at Slaley Hall is to try to play the seventh, eighth and ninth holes in level par, as those holes can make or break a round,” added Woosnam.
“If you manage to do that, then a sound back nine should give you a reasonable score.”
Daniel Hodson, De Vere’s Director of Golf and Leisure, said: “The addition of two Masters Champions in Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam once again underlines the De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship as one of the highlights on the European Senior Tour Schedule.
“We’ve always been thrilled to welcome some of the most decorated names in the game, and the 2011 field is littered with a host of fantastic players.
“Ryder Cup legend Costantino Rocca is joined by a number of past winners, including defending champion DJ Russell, 2009 winner Carl Mason and 2008 champion Gordon J Brand.
“I'm sure we are in for another thrilling contest and a great showcase of golf in the north-east.”
To register for a free ticket to the De Vere Club PGA Seniors Championship, visit here
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